Our preparations for the 80th Round the Island Race over the past week have been a mix of the important, the essential and the seemingly frivolous.
Let's start with the seemingly frivolous. The lovely people at Wadworth brewery agreed to sponsor our team kit - which was brilliant news. When I say 'team kit' this equates to four polo shirts with the Wadworth 6X logo on the back and the name of the boat and the RTIR logo on the front.
6X was named after the Wadworth beer because she was built in the brewery yard and launched with a barrel of 6X on board, way back in 1977. Both boat and beer are still going strong, which says something about the brand life of a good product: both Trapper 300s and well-brewed beer. The metal label from the barrel is still knocking around the shelves of the boat somewhere.
Having done a bit of artwork, a bit of negotiation on the use of the logo and a few phone calls to Ocean World to work out how much this would cost, the shirts are designed and being manufactured. I was allowed to make use of the brewery strapline "Handmade in Devizes" which seems to apply to both boat and beer.
And so to the essential. The joining instructions arrived last weekend and I spent a happy few hours reading through the rules, regulations and safety advice. We start in the last group, at 0740, Group 8. Out of 271 boats in our start group there are four Trapper 300s, all with very similar handicaps, so I assume no-one else has a spinnaker to play with either. In IRC classes, Google-Eyes is the other Trapper 300 and sounds much more serious.
I had a session with the charts on Sunday, pencilling in the waiting areas, start line, exclusion zone off Seaview and having yet another read of Peter Bruce's Wight Hazards. Today's lunch was spent with the Naviguesser over a Salad Nicoise and a discussion about how far into Scratchell's Bay is sufficient to stay out of the contrary tide and far enough away from the rocks. I was relieved to find he didn't want us to weave in and out of the rocks on the 3 metre line and we'll be sticking to the 5 metre contour... so we can make use of Peter Bruce's dictum that if Old Pepper Rock is in sight when crossing Scratchells Bay you are to seaward of all the rocks.
We've all installed ngTracking, a brilliant innovation and it will be interesting to see who follows us and whether they find it illuminating or confusing. If you haven't discovered the race viewer yet, have a look here.
Between now and next Thursday there's not too much to do. The long-range weather forecast at the moment is not looking too good though, as light winds are forecast. Wind, either too much of it or too little of it, is the most likely thing to prevent as doing the race. Fingers crossed for the perfect Force 3-4.