It seems like ages ago now that the boat, Alex and his crew safely arrived home. It’s actually only just over three weeks ago, and an immense amount of work has already been completed on the Open 60.
The HUGO BOSS team has an extremely intense sailing schedule from April through to December 2005, and this is the one chance to get the boat in top shape for the season. The report below is from boat captain, Simon Clarke (aka Mr Blobby from the trip home), and explains some of the work that is underway………
“Once we got over the excitement of arriving home, had a few beers with the huge group of people who came to see us in (and the obligatory hangover), it was straight back to work as normal. Many of the early days back in the UK were occupied with just clearing the boat and the container. It’s amazing how much spare kit you always seem to collect when working with yachts. We also had to sort out yet more spares and equipment when our crate arrived back from South Africa. But at least that meant we finally got all our clothes and gear that we didn’t take with us on the delivery back.
“The first major step of the boat’s refit was the removal of the rigging (mast / deckspreaders / shrouds). Then she was taken out of the water, the keel removed, and is now sitting inside a nice warm shed (thank goodness we’re not outside in this weather !). She’ll be in the shed at Campers and Nicholson’s boatyard for a few weeks to have a spruce up internally and externally.
“It’s always worth checking every aspect of the yacht when you have a chance for a refit like this, and despite having had the keel thoroughly checked last year, we will be doing the same again now. With the keel problems on four yachts in the Vendée Globe fleet at the back of our minds, we have decided that it is definitely worth taking this precaution. We hope it will get a clean bill of health again, as building a new keel at this stage would not be ideal!
“We are also fitting a heads (toilet) for those corporate days. This is a luxury that the boat does not need when racing (it adds weight, after all), but really is essential for some of the events that we will be attending with guests on board over the summer. The rest of the interior is also getting some attention, with some new paint, and more bunks fitted. We have also removed the Vendée fuel tanks and the miles of plumbing which went with them. Ross is now working on the mast, which luckily for him is also inside, out of the cold.
“So at the moment the boat is looking a bit sorry for herself, covered in dust and completely stripped out down below. But hopefully not for too long. In fact, the inside of the boat looks like it did in France for the Vendée refit – I’m beginning to wonder if it will ever look respectable again. The lads have done a great job sanding (so far). There is plenty more to do though – as they move forward to the sail locker.
“We are planning to be back in the water by Easter and to start sailing straight after (weather permitting !). This should give us time to set the rig up and recalibrate the instruments properly. We are also planning to do some sail testing and race training in preparation for the racing later on in the season, before we head off on the first stage of our summer tour of Europe for Hugo Boss.“
A somewhat busy boat captain, Simon
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