Matt Oates has been Mate on board Mariquita since 2007, in this recently shot interview he tells us about this year's crew changes, and the general consensus for their 2015 season as the famous Fife designed cutter graces the Solent in England.
"This year has seen a lot of change for Mariquita, we've gone from a crew of 11 to a crew of 7." To add to that, geographically, the boat's based in the UK for this season - in the Solent - so without their crew house in Cogolin (France), the crew are now all living on board.
Matty goes on to say that as a result from living under one roof as it were, "everything's changed. Crew dynamics, the way we work and interact with each other.... It's all for the better."
The new, fresh-faced crew that make up this year's team on board are up against the challenge of learning how to sail and race Mariquita smoothly and safely.
Matty references Mariquita's success last year when they won the big boat Panerai series which entailed racing at seven Panerai sponsored regattas. In 2014, Mariquita won three of those regattas at; Vele d’Epoca a Porto Santo Stefano in Argentario, Copa del Rey in Mahon and Regates Royales, Cannes. With George Newman, mate Matty Oates and bosun Billy Butler leading their team to an overall victory against Moonbeam IV. Last year they set a precedent for the second time - the last Big Boat Panerai Series trophy they'd won was in 2007.
This year is different for Mariquita, there's no multiple regatta series to be won. However, with nearly a completely new crew, Matty's sure about facing new challenges even though there's less competition in the Solent "we want to sail the boat clean and sail the boat well". And he's honest about the pressure to train new people up.
Just imagine gybing a 52 foot spinnaker pole in the Solent's short chop, further enhanced by spectator boats everywhere while fresh-faced, wide-eyed crew look back for reassurance. There's gotta be some pressure there!
Classic Yacht TV interviewed nearly all the crew, except a busy - slightly shy engineer and George Newman, the captain who we'll catch up with later in the season. Reassuringly, there were some great vibes from all the individuals that make up the 2015 Mariquita team, CYTV will be releasing all the short interviews of the crew over the next week so you can meet them too.
Stay tuned for more to come in the Mariquita dairies...
What is Mariquita doing in England this year?
YARMOUTH OLD GAFFERS RECAP 2015 27/05-31/05
A report from the Mate - Matthew Oates
What better way to get into the swing of an English summer, than to race Mariquita at the singular Yarmouth Old Gaffers? Racing but a single day in front of a town that was heaving with spectators and performers, we may have been the biggest boat there, but the spirit of the Gaffer community dwarfed us all.
Normally, we try to start a summer with at least ten days of training under our proverbial belt. By race day on Saturday, we had only been out three times. Our permanent crew this year is made of many new faces, and we were still just learning how to take the Old Girl out on the water, so although she got around the cans the fastest, it was a learning experience for everyone. At the end of the day, Jolie Brise and Kelpie, both of them sailed brilliantly, took the podium above us.
The lynchpin on Mariquita, like many large boats, is precise teamwork. It's not simply that we sail better when we all work together, but that she cannot, will not, sail unless a myriad of things are happening in sync, at the right time. One trip up, and you may be pulling that spare topmast out of storage. It's slightly bizarre, how something so graceful can be all at once unforgiving. Perhaps that's what keeps people coming back year after year? More likely it's the tea and biscuits.
WESTWARD CUP RECAP 14/06-16/06
A report from the Mate - Matthew Oates
The Solent hasn't exactly been handing Mariquita any favours since we arrived in April. Or rather, the weather in the Solent...the people have been incredible, making us feel like we've been locals since the dawn of time.
As many know, Mariquita's sweet spot is somewhere between ten and twelve knots of breeze. That's been a hard range to find the last few weeks, as day after day seems more suited to kitesurfing than classic sailing. As we trained for the Westward Cup in Cowes, we even saw the two extremes, with no breeze at all on Friday, and a reef tucked in our mainsail on Saturday! But the in-between still eluded us.
That wasn't to last, as Sunday and Monday were the perfect conditions for Mariquita, and we made full use of them with line honours in both races. Although the first race didn't require any spinnaker work, we managed to sneak it out on the second, throwing in a few peels to our reaching staysail for good measure.
If you've ever seen a picture of the boat on a run, it's very easy to focus on the kite and the massive spinnaker pole. But look closely at the foredeck and you'll see a spiderweb of lines being rove over the planks. There's the pole foreguy, a main boom preventer, the kite sheet, lazy jib top sheets, barber hauls, jib sheets, spare kite sheets, and if you throw a peel to the "reacher" there, you must navigate this web and visualize your leads to make sure sails go down and up cleanly. It keeps us on our toes and off the streets, and can never be practiced enough. One of the many joys of racing such a beautiful beast.
Yet to come....
Round the Island Race 27/06 - Race
British Classic Yacht Club Regatta 18/07-25/07- Racing
Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentennial 27/07- 31/07 - Racing