Team Building Weekend – the unofficial write up

I feel the 450 word write-up I was tasked to do for Clipper didn’t quite do our team building weekend justice. Here’s double that with stolen pictures just for kicks.

I’d been looking forward to team building weekend for quite a while. You see, it had been a WHOLE 4 WEEKS since I’d indulged in any sailing / sailing chat so I was beginning to feel some withdrawal symptoms.

After navigating some rather dodgy country roads, I rocked up in the green machine with Jan and Amancio at a rather cute farm in Kent. By 2pm, we were all gathered. Many of us already knew each other in the room, be it from crew allocation or from prolific Facebooking, but there were still quite a few people to get to know. That was soon put to rest when our lovely team building committee split us up into groups of 3 to go on a scavenger hunt around the farm.

I was put into a team with James and Huw. Cue chicken stalking and prize hiding as we went for the ultimate chicken selfie and tried to sabotage the other teams efforts (one team and all that of course).

A feathered Team Huwer

The scavenger hunt then ended with us all playing a  “Clip on” challenge where we had to navigate the obstacles in a courtyard whilst being clipped on to a rope, each of us having an impediment. Now, I’m pretty impressed I didn’t hurt myself doing this as I was blindfolded. James, Huw and I achieved a good time getting around the obstacles, the final challenge being to use my contribution to the team building weekend: neon day-glo face paint. I’d made sure that this was suitably silly enough and wouldn’t result in any allergic reactions by testing it out on my work colleagues the day before.

The effects were GLORIOUS. I’ve never seen such a good looking bunch of day-glow lunies before in my life! My mini team went for rainbow. It was a strong look.

Looking pretty cool
Looking pretty cool

Way too happy about marshmallows
Way too happy about marshmallows
By this point, it was time to crack out the BBQ, assisted by a smidge of drizzle. Emily had done an amazing job sourcing food and we even had the delights of Spanish nibbles from Amancio – cheese and jamon. So…much…food….so…much…wine. I also did my traditional “there’s a ping pong table I MUST PLAY and get overly competitive!” bit. Cue Jonathan and I getting a bit mesmerized by table tennis rallies.

Post BBQ & Wine, we retired to the communal room for some team song selection where Joe sacrificed his arm to getting Wifi, it only being available in one spot above the fridge (we’ve picked “Geronimo” by Sheppard). This then became a rather serious discussion about how we would manage stopovers in port during each leg. I did find it a little challenging to take this seriously, however, as everyone was still covered in dayglo paint. We all got it sorted in the end.

Really, how could you take this lot seriously?!
Really, how could you take this lot seriously?!
Post-discussion, we retired to the pub around the corner. Here the conversation moved on to superheroes, jamon and I’m not sure what else. We stayed for a fair while, Pablo managing to fall asleep at the table. Our bunks then called around midnight.

Understanding the crewThe next morning, we all gathered for a personality profile session. Joe had sent us all questionnaires to complete before the session so we could understand a bit more about each other, each of us being split into Myers-Briggs personality types. I’ve done this a couple of times already, but it was fascinating to see where everyone came out and understand the strengths we could all bring  I’ve finally embraced my inner crazy lady and changed from ISFP to ESFP, but it was good to see quite a few people were similar. Cue all of those in the “SF”  group going “Oh no, he’s all on his own!” as James was the only “NT”. Appreciate that’ll only make sense if you’ve done MBTI.

Aliens in the water apparently

After all that insight, we got our walking boots on and headed out for a stroll around the delightful Doddington Hall Gardens in the sunshine to work up an
appetite for lunch. We didn’t really “work” much – cue much lazing about near ponds, discussing Swallows & Amazons and following owls around (as you do). Despite our laziness, a roast dinner was very much appreciated as our final activity together. Only then was it revealed that we needed to do a blog write-up of the weekend for Clipper to be submitted by 9am the next morning. I volunteered (I quite enjoy this blogging malarky), resulting in frantic quote & photo gathering etc. for Clipper write up.

Just chilling

Team Huw = Team AWESOME

Team building weekend was brilliant. Everyone was up for a laugh and it looks like we’re going to have a great time all together. It was a shame we couldn’t have had more of the lovely Team Huw Crew there that we’ve all met along the way there.

Looking forward to the race even more now. And hoping for a neon sponsor. 

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A whole new language

This evening, it hit home to me how I’ve begun to learn a whole new language without even realising it. It came to me as I was sharing the dark arts of rowing with newbies at my rowing club.

 

“Start at the finish, then slide up to the catch”

“Bunnyhop for the first quarter of the slide”

“Get the split down but maintain the rate”

“Tap down a bit more to get your blades out before pivoting”

I’ve been rowing since I was a teenager, so all of these terms are deeply embedded in my memory. Its completely obvious what they all mean. Isn’t it?

Today, I was reminded how the rowing lingo I take so much for granted was like a whole new language to the people I was teaching. That it takes time to get your head around it and really understand what the terms refer to – just like it was for me during my first level of training for the race. The difference between rowing and sailing, however, is the SHEER QUANTITY of new terms you have to learn. Take the parts of the boat, for example. I used to think rowing could be a bit complex, but my perspectives have now radically changed!

Not much to learn here
Not much to learn here
Parts of a yacht
Slightly more to learn here

I’m not the most patient of people so I can sometimes find it a bit testing teaching rowing. How our skipper and first mate had the patience to teach 10 of us how to sail a 68ft yacht from scratch I’ll never know!

The upside is that having recently learnt something completely new, I really appreciated today how patience and clear explanations from your instructor make a difference. It completely makes the learning experience (or breaks it – I hope I don’t find out on level 2!).

I’ve now just got to crack on with remembering and surely learning lots of new terms as part of this sailing experience. The top picture is a brain-dump of what I’ve learnt so far from just one week, although I’m pretty sure there is a lot I’ve missed off. My Level 2 training is now just over a week away so I’ll soon be back on board with plenty of time to practice it all again soon.

Learning the ropes

…or knots should it be said. According to the Clipper handbook, I need to crack 8 knots before I step on a boat. And with just a week to go before my first week of training, I have cracked one. Just. One. Knot. This isn’t even the the most crucial knot (the bowline is what I must know apparently). All I can tie at the moment is a figure of eight and my shoelaces.

It’s not for want of trying. Each week, I’ve been having “knot tutorials” with a seasoned rower and ex-sailor at my club (thank you JK!). We’ve covered a couple of knots that I can master at the time, but can I remember them now? No. 

Cue kitchen struggles trying to attach a chair to a rope. The chair is still not attached to anything and my rope looks like this:  

 


Learning practical skills has never been my forte, but it appears I need to get A LOT quicker at picking them up. 

Fun week ahead now frantically learning the ropes ready to start training!