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I’ve been pretty busy out on the water recently and have been doing a lot of sailing with the Tall Ships Youth Trust. In fact, I will soon be setting off across the Atlantic Ocean on one of their Challenger 72 yachts! But, first of all, let me explain what I’ve been up to recently…

Since passing my Airline Transport Pilot License exams back in June, I have been continuously plugging away at my sponsorship hunt to fly around the world. This has been terrifically hard and despite having numerous hot irons in the fire and strong leads, I have yet to confirm a major sponsor. I am still working very hard at this though and am committed to finishing what I have started.

In the mean time, I have spent a lot of my time at sea sailing with the Tall Ships Youth Trust. This has been a great experience and it has taught me a lot about sailing big boats and managing large crews.

This last weekend was certainly one of my recent highlights! On Thursday evening, I was invited by the Air League to go and fly one of the British Airways 747 full motion simulators at Heathrow. This was an amazing opportunity and certainly one that I couldn’t turn down given my passion for flying. I got to spend 2 hours in the simulator with 45 minutes at the controls. The time flew by, but I certainly managed to pack a lot in.

At first I took off and completed a circuit, then I proceeded to conduct multiple approaches with different levels of visibility and turbulence thrown in. At first I started with the simple ILS approach and I gradually worked up to an engine failure on short final with a 30knot crosswind! My time was over before I knew it and I am thrilled to have had such an amazing opportunity. Thank you British Airways and the Air League!

The next day, I proceeded to pick up a First 40 for annual Tall Ships Charity Regatta. This year was the 10th anniversary of the regatta and an impressive 17 yachts were entered. I was skippering team ‘Highway To The Danger Zone’ and we aptly had a theme of Top Gun! We started racing on Saturday and the forecast was pretty wet and wild. 35knots and spring tides led to some interesting conditions out on the Solent and I was particularly careful to avoid getting into any risky situations, as yachts were broaching left, right and center.

On the first race I was second around the top mark and proceeded to take the lead on the downwind leg, which I was chuffed about. We held this lead almost right until the finish where we were just beaten across the line by about a boat length. The team was dead happy with a second place though!

For our second race of the day, I once again had a good start across the line and was in the top 5 boats going around the top mark. These 5 yachts traded places continuously with a lot of aggressive tactics being used to hold or attempt to gain position. Eventually I finished fourth and was happy to finish the day in third overall. That evening, every team dressed up in fancy dress for the event party and it’s fair to say there were a few sore heads in the morning!

The following day where we were due to have a further two races was a complete change as the sun was out and there was absolutely no wind! We waited and waited, motoring around but it was not to be and so the flotilla made their way back up to Port Solent to drop off all the yachts back at the Sunsail base. We finished third overall and I am thoroughly proud of the team for their efforts!

Moving on… I am due to fly out to Las Palmas in a couple of days to start preparing for the ARC, which I am going to compete in this year. I will be sailing on Challenger 4, which is a 72ft steel yacht with 16 crew on board. The skipper and I have a week to prepare for our departure and the rest of the crew join a couple of days before we leave!

I’m terrifically excited about this crossing, as it will be a world away from any of the other ocean crossings I have made. With so many people on board, there will be many different challenges to be faced whilst we are going across the Atlantic and I’m looking forward to it! We set off on the 23rd November and you can follow us across using the tracker on the main ARC website. We will also be sending blogs from the boat which can be found at www.tallships.org on the front page.

That’s all for now, wish us good winds going across!

Mike