As you can see from the pic of the geotag, this Audioboo podcast snippet was recorded while Team Daft were 100 miles off the west coast, unfortunately out of phone coverage to allow me post it, but still the GPS on the iPhone was working well enough to geotag the post.
As I write this I am in my bunk aboard the team daft yacht. We have 12 hours to go until our race around Ireland begins. The other competitors are all around us and I am starting to feel the fear!
I remember this feeling from before. Fear is how I have just described it but fear of what? Fear of failure? Fear of under performing? Fear of what?
Over time i have felt the fear in rowing and expedition racing, as i launched my business and in facing my blindness but the fear never comes close to the buzz that follows when it has been conquered. In fact the more intense the fear, the bigger the buzz is likely to be.
So, as I lie on my bunk I am trying to flip the fear into feelings of excitement. If I believe what I have just written then the buzz coming up is gonna be a good one! Time to sleep, we wont have much more for the next 6 days and nights!
Mick harnessed up 12 hours into our sail. The halyard from our smaller head sail which we had just hoisted had come away from the top of the sail in rough waters and quickly strengthening winds off the south coast of england. The solution was to go up the mast and get it! The plan was for me to winch Mick up the mast with Trav helming the boat through the waves. The wind was howling the boat was crashing on the waves and Mick was putting his trust in me to hoist him 40 feett up with no safety nets. As I began grinding the winch I could hear Trav roaring a reminder of the importance of my task. ‘you have Mick’s life in your hands, Mark!’.
I just about heard him and his words were not lost on me. If I made a mistake on this Mick would fall either straight into an angry sea or smash down on the deck of the boat. And as I inched Mick slowly higher I knew that any trouble I was having standing over the winch would be multiplied for Mick. He would be smashing his body and limbs off the mast. I have no idea how long it took but when I got the roar to let him down I eased the rope off the winch jammer and began lowering him to the deck with the halyard recovered. With that complete it should have been back to simply raising the sail again. But a pulley had swung away from him during the recovery and it was sitting half way up the mast. So up he went again!
The two mast climbs, two sail hoists and tidy of the boat after took about 90 mins and it all came from one loose knot. But the learning from the situation was and will be incredibly valuable.
First, trust is only built in practice, not in theory. Second, when things go wrong there is no room for hysterics. And third, prevention is always better than cure!
My mate John O’Regan just sent me a message on Facebook to remind me that this day three years ago we were about to finish the everest marathon. Today I am in the middle of the English Channel sailing a 40 ft yacht back from France for the Round Ireland yacht race. I have no idea what the new sailing challenge will teach me or what the Round Ireland will throw at us but there will be unexpected events along the way. I remember my time in the Himalayas with John and the unexpected nature of the challenge proved to be the catalyst for me to enter the South Pole race and for John to go on to represent Ireland in the 24-hour running world championships. Our plan was to do the lowest ultra marathon in the world finishing at the dead sea in Jordan, followed by the highest marathon from Everest base camp a month later. We finished the dead sea event in the top 25 out of nearly 150 athletes and I suppose our spirits were high heading into the Everest event. Too high as it happens! Prior to the marathon we had to trek in for nearly two weeks. But from the moment we started the trek I knew we were in trouble. The terrain underfoot was horrific for me and it meant that john had to communicate with me constantly. But the real killer was that every step we took was closer to the start line and therefore further from the finish. The fear of complete failure was with us for the entire trek as we knew that the terrain would get worse and worse the closer to base camp that we got. And it did. I was tripping and falling the whole way up but we made it. Albeit we, or I should say I, was slower than all the other competitors and the race was worse! Despite our fitness passing the test at the dead sea ultra we finished hours behind the field and dead last on everest. I hated that feeling and it was why I wanted to be competitive in the south pole race not just complete it. And it is the same for the Round Ireland yacht race. I am not planning to be a passenger on the Team Daft yacht with my co-skipper Mick Liddy having to do all the work. As it is only two of us in the boat for the race and we are in it to compete then just as with the south pole race, I will have to be a functioning member of our team. The great thing is that the boat is starting to feel a little bit like the south pole tent and I am learning the ropes. Literally! So I think we will be competing, not just completing the Round Ireland yacht race. That’s the plan. We have just got to make it all happen now.