It was 06.30am and there was one unexpected email in my inbox. It was from a legend in our sport, a figure I have read much about, peered at in photographs, in magazines, aspired to be, to sail with, to interview. There was a spontaneous muscle response in the smile department that stretched into a broad grin.
The email was from Alain Gautier; Alain Gautier who also ran the Route du Rhum last year; Alain Gautier who I met again at Foncia HQ this year in February. I re-read the email and re-re-read it, until my eyes were no longer simply scanning the words and their meaning was clear. The purpose of the email was to ask if I was interested in joining the delivery of Gautier’s ORMA 60, top-of-the-range trimaran Foncia, from Lorient to Valencia, leaving on Monday.
All those hours spent clicking on links from Sailing Anarchy, watching ORMA’s on You-Tube tear across the water in great clouds of spray- spun through my brain. ‘Squeaks’ of pure unadulterated excitement escaped from my lips, as I jumped about the room. That experience was about to be mine for real, in the flesh, on Monday, Monday being the day after tomorrow.
OH MY GOD! Was my very first thought this morning. OH MY GOD! had me on my bicycle after breakfast, beetling down to the local chandlery to pick up one of those Gerber ‘E-Z Out’ flick knives in rescue yellow, with the rounded tip and a serrated edge. OH MY GOD had me digging out my HPX Smock top with the wrist and rubber neck seals, base layers, mid layers and a water proof bag.
Not since stepping on my first multihull, for my first Atlantic crossing with the crew of ‘Moxie,’ in 2002, have I been gripped by such trepidation and anticipation. How will I feel with the tiller in my hand, rapt in concentration by fear, exhilaration and sheer power? What is it like to ride the middle foil, seamlessly gliding through the water? Can you feel the difference in performance after canting the mast? What will it be like to be blasted by a gulf of water at high speed? Will I be able to see? How will I describe to you, the closest I’ll have ever been to flying on water…I’ll tell you next week.