On Monday I was a very lucky girl indeed. With riots taking place across London I headed out to Portsmouth armed with an invite for Alex Thomson's racing yacht, sponsored by Hugo Boss. Having never really been sailing before I was excited, if a little apprehensive, but the thought of getting away from the city and watching some of the sailing at Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight was an offer too good to refuse.
Coming out of the harbour on the boat things were very relaxed. We had a go at pulling ropes and had a tour of the boat which is made of the same material as an F1 car. As we hit the open water things got a bit more exciting, at points the boat was banked at 40 degrees while I was clinging on to the high side of the boat for dear life. The power of the elements becomes clear when sails are raised and the wind catches the sail propelling it forward.
The boat is designed to be sailed by one person, and for certain races Alex goes it alone for 3 months which is just astonishing. The living and sleeping area on the boat is very basic and he has to train himself to sleep for 20 minutes every couple of hours in order to keep the speed of the boat at an optimum in order to get the best possible place in the race, which many boats don't finish. On the boat it seems like everywhere you step there is another rope, something to trip over - this sort of sailing is not a sport for the clumsy!
The boat itself is an Open 60, that means it's 60ft long, has smooth hulls to plane across any waves, and can reach speeds of up to 25 knots. On Wednesday Alex and his team came 3rd in the Artemis Challenge, a race at Cowes Week for charity. Celebrities get involved in this race too and Alex welcomed Ewan MacGregor as part of his crew, the course for which is a lap around the Isle of Wight. Zara Phillips also competed with another team.
While we were relaxing on the non-racing yacht (think Tanqueray gin & tonic, elderflower and raspberry trifle and a sun deck) we were shown this amazing photo of Alex and the Hugo Boss boat. When the keel of the boat is moved mechanically over to one side in order to keep the boat stable, the boat leans and the keel can actually come out of the water. For this amazing photo, Alex got dressed up in a Hugo Boss suit, and, from a small boat, jumped onto the keel as it appeared from the water. Brings a whole new meaning to the term 'wetsuit' right?
I really enjoyed my day sailing with Alex, his team and the Hugo Boss fragrance team. I was also given some fabulous new men's fragrances from Hugo Boss to try which I'll be reviewing for my next post... come back soon.
See a few more of my pics below...