France, j’arrive

Vid Slapničar

ENG: It has been quiet lately, I know, but not for lack of things happening. Quite the contrary, the intensity of preparations for the upcoming first serious race of the season has skyrocketed in the last few weeks for the Ashika team.

Let’s rewind to where we left off – at the shipyard where Ashika II was in the final stages of her makeover, facelift, or nose job, however you want to call it. The operation was successful, and the new spatula bow was finished [thank you, Jure, Vid H., Jernej, Anže, Sašo, Tine, Jakob, Jaka, Frank, Nejc and all the rest].

Of course, as always, some like it and some don’t. You can judge the aesthetics on your own. Nevertheless, the goal of this project was purely practical and technical, so looks don’t count. A steep learning curve of shipbuilding, carbon infusion methods, and endless sanding took a toll on Uroš as his health deteriorated with the deadline approaching. At the worst point, Uroš’s cough was painful to hear, let alone endure. But he was pushing through and often stayed in the workshop with a high fever. This is probably not the best idea in the long term, but it shows his stubborn character that got him through.


Ashika II got her new colours in the form of a vinyl wrap [thank you, Štefan], fully embracing her humanitarian purpose of promoting Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans frontières). Now she looked the business and was ready to be launched just four days after the initial plan, which is in the nautical business super on time. She touched water where she left it in Portorož, and late the next day, Uroš and our team principal Lukas set off on the 150 NM long delivery sailing to Murter island in Croatia.

The plan was to participate in BENETEAU First SE Challenge 23, one of the largest sailing adventure races organised by Seascape, the shipyard that supports Ashika Sailing tremendously. After getting stuck in several nerve-testing windless zones, Bora filled in and propelled them towards their destination. We intercepted them in the Murter Sea and had to use full power to overtake them. They were flying.

It quickly turned out that the boat was far from finished, and some minor damage occurred, plus the brand-new wrapping did not withstand the power washing it underwent while Uroš and Lukas were sending it. A slightly rough surface of the hull (not the mirror finish of the gelcoat) allowed water to enter under the sticker and tear it off. 

Regarding the bow shape change, Uroš didn’t report significant changes in speed and acceleration, which one might be looking for. Still, he noticed a significant improvement in how quickly he could get the boat back under control when it luffed up. That can make a huge difference since you are not losing so much precious time at a complete stop, and it reduces the possibility of equipment damage. For an in-depth report on how the new design works, more miles will need to be sailed and, of course, compared to other Mini650 sailboats. 

Uroš then spent the next two days getting Ashika II back in shape and helping to train the other participants of the Challenge. We saw this race as a good warmup; Lukas jumped ship and joined his good friend Philipp on his Seascape27, aka First 27 SE, while Uroš went on his own. Watching the race unfold from the outside, he showed a strong performance, nailing the start like he was still sailing in Laser, quickly taking the fleet’s lead and fighting for the line honours the whole race. 

Ultimately, he had to admit the defeat but only to two First 27 SEs, which is still an outstanding achievement since Uroš was sailing alone (others doublehanded) and had a meter and a half shorter boat, which shows especially upwind. Once the race was done, he took some days off and transferred the boat back north—this time to Marina Bunarina next to Pula in Istria. The next few weeks were dedicated to training and sorting out the boat again. Finally, in mid-May, it was time for Ashika II to leave the Adriatic Sea for the foreseeable future. She returned to the Seascape shipyard to have the electrics finished [thank you, Vid H. and Sašo], the second and third layers of antifouling [thank you, Jernej], a new wrap [thank you again, Štefan] and a million other pesky little details [thank you Jure P. and the rest of the team]. Two weeks of pure hell followed for Uroš and just regular hell for us helping him. 

Two days before he departed for France, everything seemed to be against us, but battle by battle, we were slowly progressing. So when the opportunity came up to visit the Institute of Clinical Neurophysiology and Dr Grošelj Dolenc – the expert on sleep science, we took it with open hands. She already worked on the MiniTransat project with Andraž and Kristian – founders of Seascape, who are the reason you are reading this anyway.

Uroš was thoroughly questioned about his health, life habits, and sleep regimen while racing and at home. I felt she was a bit surprised at how he is handling it all and already fights fatigue and sleep deprivation well. But there is still much room for improvement, so Uroš was sent for complete blood tests and sleeping pattern research. That meant Uroš would spend 30 hours of the last 48 before departure with a bunch of sensors and cables running from his legs, to his fingers and to the top of his head. Not ideal when you have some sanding, plenty of running around and packing the van + boat on your schedule. I would say he took it as a champ, but that would be pure PR bullshit. It annoyed him to the moon and back. The situation would be stressful and agitating without the cables, but this put him over the edge. When done, he took the contraption off with great relief last afternoon. He switched to a much more comfortable Oura Ring, which will monitor his sleep, activity, recovery, temperature trends, heart rate, stress, and more, even during the races.

Nevertheless, we got 95% of the things done as Uroš says, “A sailboat is never finished”. The vinyl wrap is now sealed around the edges, and we hope this will do the trick this time. 

We sent him on the way at midnight, surprisingly, with all the lights on the trailer working and just one call to return to pick up forgotten things. With 1800 km ahead of him and countless things on his mind, I was glad he installed a proper bed [thank you, Katja] in the back of his van. My calm state was then heavily disrupted in the morning after the second night while he was on the road. I woke up to a missed call that came in half past one a.m. I was pissed since he was allowed through the do-not-disturbed mode and even more afraid of what the call was about. He rejected my first return call and only picked up on the second try—another heartstopper. The midnight call was by mistake and only rang once, which explains why I didn’t wake up. So, let’s not do that again. 

He made it safely to Duarnenez [check out the video from the last time he was there], yet the troubles must have sneaked in in the back of his van. After weeks of being in service for the second time, the NKE declared the Carbowind HR wind sensor dead. Uroš is now without this crucial, 3000 € worth piece of equipment that feeds the data to his autopilot. No sleep training and optimisation will help when you have to stay on the tiller 24/7. 

Since the trouble began last year on the SAS regatta and was in service afterwards, it never reliably worked again. So NKE was “kind” enough to offer us a discount. Imagine that. Thanks to Ladi for dealing with our case. Uroš will now have to drive about 100 km to pick up the new one 24 hours before the race. 

Yes, we are hours from his first proper race of the season. On Thursday, 1st of June (time of start to be declared), 85 Mini650 will start on the 19th Trophée Marie-Agnès Péron – 220 solo miles. We will post the tracker link and race updates regularly. 



Expected departure this Thursday, June 1st at 12h from Port de Treboul.
Number of boats: 85
Track the race – tracker:

France, j’arrive

Vid Slapničar

Vem, da je bilo zadnje čase tiho, a ne zaradi pomanjkanja dogodkov. Ravno nasprotno, intenzivnost priprav na prihajajočo prvo resno regato sezone je v zadnjih tednih za ekipo Ashika skokovito narasla.

Vrnimo se tja, kjer smo nazadnje končali – v delavnici, kjer je bila Ashika II v zadnji fazi preobrazbe, liftinga obraza ali operacije nosu, kakorkoli že želite temu reči. Operacija je bila uspešna, nov lopatast premec je končan [hvala, Jure, Vid H., Jernej, Anže, Sašo, Tine, Jakob, Jaka, Frank, Nejc in vsi ostali].

Seveda je, kot vedno, nekaterim všeč, drugim ne. O estetiki presodite sami. Cilj tega projekta je bil zgolj praktičen in tehničen, zato videz ne šteje. Intenzivno obdobje učenja o ladjedelništvu, metodah infuziranja ogljikovih vlaken in neskončnem brušenju je terjala davek na Urošovem zdravju, ki se je s približevanjem roka dokončanja samo še slabšalo. V najhujših trenutkih je bil Urošev kašelj boleč za že poslušanje, kaj šele za prenašanje. Toda nekako se je prebijal in pogosto ostal v delavnici tudi z visoko vročino. Dolgoročno verjetno to ni najboljša ideja, vendar kaže na njegov trmast značaj.

Ashika II je dobila svoje nove barve v obliki vinilne nalepke [hvala, Štefan], s katero sedaj ponosno kaže svoj humanitarni namen promocije Zdravnikov brez meja (Médecins sans frontières). Pripravljena na lansiranje je bila le štiri dni kasneje, kot je bilo prvotno v načrtu, kar je v navtični dejavnosti super točno. V Portorožu se je ponovno dotaknila vode in pozno naslednji dan sta se Uroš in vodja naše ekipe Lukas odpravila na 150 NM dolgo plovbo do Hrvaškega otoka Murter.

Načrt je bil sodelovati na BENETEAU First SE Challenge 23, eni največjih jadralnih pustolovskih dirk, ki jih organizira Seascape, ladjedelnica, ki Ashika Sailing izjemno podpira. Potem ko sta obtičala v več brezvetrnih območjih, ki so testirale njune živce, se je burja le stabilizirala in ju pognala proti cilju. Mi smo jih prestregli v Murterskem morju in morali smo uporabiti vso moč motorjev, da smo ju prehiteli. Letela sta.

Tam sta nameravala sodelovati na BENETEAU First SE Challenge 23, eni največjih jadralnih pustolovskih regat, ki jih organizira Seascape. Gre za ladjedelnico, ki Ashika Sailing izjemno podpira. Potem, ko sta obtičala v več brezvetrnih območjih, ki so testirale njune živce, se je burja le stabilizirala in ju pognala proti cilju. Mi smo jih prestregli v Murterskem morju in morali smo uporabiti vso moč motorjev, da smo ju prehiteli. Letela sta.

Hitro se je izkazalo, da barka še zdaleč ni dokončana, v transferju je nastalo nekaj malega škode, poleg tega pa čisto nova nalepka ni zdržala močnega pranja, ki ga je bila deležna med Uroševim in Lukasovim divjanjem. Izkazalo se je, da je rahlo hrapava površina trupa (ne zrcalno spoliran gelcoat) omogočila, da je voda vstopila pod nalepko in jo odtrgala.

Glede spremembe oblike premca Uroš ni poročal o bistvenih spremembah v hitrosti in pospešku, ki bi ju morda pričakovali. Je pa zato opazil, da lahko po neplaniranem obratu v veter znatno hitreje spet prevzame nadzor nad jadrnico. To je lahko velika razlika, saj ne bo izgubljal dragocenega časa z ustavljanjem in postavljanjem v veter in zmanjšal možnost poškodb opreme. Za poglobljeno poročilo o delovanju nove zasnove bo treba prejadrati več milj in se seveda primerjati z drugimi jadrnicami Mini650.

Uroš je naslednja dva dni spravljal Ashiko II v formo in pomagal pri skupnih treningih ostalih udeležencev Challenga. Ta regata je lahko služila kot dobro ogrevanje pred sezono, zato se je Lukas pridružil svojemu dobremu prijatelju Philippu na njegovem Seascape27, oz. First 27 SE, Uroš pa je za boljši trening jadral sam. Za zunanjega opazovalca je pokazal močno predstavo, štartal ravno tako, kot bi še vedno jadral v Laserju, hitro prevzel vodstvo flote in se celo regato boril za odličja.

Na koncu je moral priznati premoč le eni First 27 SE ekipi, kar je izjemen dosežek. Uroš je namreč jadral sam (ostali v dvoje), na meter in pol krajši jadrnici, kar se je zelo poznalo predvsem pri jadranju v veter.

Po končani regati si je vzel nekaj dni dopusta in jadrnico prestavil nazaj na sever – tokrat v marino Bunarina pri Pulju v Istri. Naslednjih nekaj tednov je bilo namenjenih treningu in nadaljnjemu piljenju sistemov na jadrnici.

Končno je sredi maja prišel čas, da Ashika II zapusti Jadransko morje. Vrnila se je v ladjedelnico Seascape na dokončanje električnih sistemov [hvala, Vid H. in Sašo], na drugi in tretji sloj antivegetativnega premaza [hvala, Jernej], novo nalepko [še enkrat hvala, Štefan] in milijon drugih nadležnih malenkosti [hvala Jure P. in ostala ekipa]. Temu sta sledila dva tedna čistega pekla za Uroša in čisto običajnega pekla za ostale, ki smo mu pomagali. Dva dni pred Uroševim odhodom v Francijo se je zdelo, da je vse proti nam, a bitko za bitko smo počasi napredovali.

Ko se je torej ponudila priložnost za obisk Inštituta za klinično nevrofiziologijo in dr. Grošelj Dolenčeve, strokovnjakinje za spanje, smo jo sprejeli z odprtimi rokami. Na projektu MiniTransat je sodelovala že z Andražem in Kristianom, ustanoviteljema Seascapea, ki sta razlog, da tole sploh berete.

Uroša je temeljito izprašala o njegovem zdravju, življenjskih navadah in režimu spanja med regato in doma. Zdelo se mi je, da je nekoliko presenečena nad tem, kako Uroš vse to prenaša, in da se že zdaj dobro bori proti utrujenosti in pomanjkanju spanca. A prostora za izboljšave je, kot vedno, še veliko, zato so Uroša poslali na obsežne krvne preiskave in raziskavo vzorcev spanja. To je pomenilo, da je Uroš 30 od zadnjih 48 ur pred odhodom preživel polepljen s kopico senzorjev in kablov, ki so mu tekli od nog, do prstov in do temena. Ne ravno idealno, saj je imel na urniku še nekaj brušenja, veliko tekanja naokoli in pakiranja kombija in čolna. Rekel bi, da je izziv prenesel kot šampijon, a to bi bilo čisto piarovsko sranje. Vse skupaj ga je jezilo do lune in nazaj. Situacija bi bila že sama po sebi stresna in naporna, vsi ti kabli pa so ga spravili rahlo čez rob. S snemanjem podatkov je končal zadnje popoldne in z velikim olajšanjem snel napravo. Prešel je na uporabo veliko bolj udobnega prstana Oura Ring, ki bo spremljal njegov spanec, aktivnost, regeneracijo, temperaturne trende, srčni utrip, stres in še več, tudi med regatami.

Kljub vsemu smo naredili 95% vseh opravil. Nalepka je tokrat zatesnjena ob robovih s posebnim premazom za ta namen. Držimo pesti da se bo tokrat obdržala. Itak pa drži, kar pravi Uroš, da »Jadrnica ni nikoli dokončana«.

Na pot smo ga poslali ob polnoči, začuda z vsemi delujočimi lučmi na prikolici in samo z enim klicem, naj se vrne po par pozabljenih kosov opreme. Ker je bilo pred njim 1800 km in v njegovih mislih nešteto stvari, sem bil vesel, da je v zadnji del kombija namestil pravo posteljo [hvala, Katja].


Vendar je bilo moj mir kratkega daha, saj me je naslednje jutro presenetil neodgovorjen klic, ki je čakal od pol druge ure. Bil sem jezen, ker sem imel vklopljeno izjemo, ki dovoljuje zvonenje klicem bližnjim osebam, še bolj pa me je bilo strah razloga klica. Uroš je zavrnil moj prvi povratni klic in se oglasil šele v drugem poskusu – še en srčni zastoj. Na koncu se je izkazalo, da je bil polnočni klic pomota in je zvonil samo enkrat, kar pojasnjuje, zakaj se nisem zbudil. Tega ne bi ponovil še enkrat.

Varno je prišel do Duarneneza [oglejte si videoposnetek, ko je bil nazadnje tam], ampak so težave očitno prišle z njim, kot slepi potniki v kombiju. Po več tednih, ko je bil že drugič na popravilu, je servisni oddelek proizvajalca Urošev senzor za veter (Carbowind HR) razglasil za mrtvega. Uroš je zdaj brez te ključne, 3000 € vredne opreme, ki posreduje podatke njegovemu avtopilotu. Noben trening spanja in njegova optimizacija ne bosta pomagala, če bi moral ostati na krmilu 24/7.

Odkar so se lani na regati SAS začele težave in je bil na popravilu, senzor ni več deloval zanesljivo. Na koncu je bil proizvajalec dovolj “prijazen”, da nam je ponudil popust na novega. Kakšna storitev! Hvala Ladiju, ki se je ukvarjal z našim primerom in nam pomagal urgentno razrešiti primer. Uroš bo zdaj moral prevoziti približno 100 km, da bo pičlih 24 ur pred regato prevzel nov senzor.

Da, le nekaj ur nas loči od njegove prve prave regate v sezoni. V četrtek 1. junija ob 12:00 CET, bo 85 Mini650 jadrnic štartalo na 19. Trophée Marie-Agnès Péron – 220 solo milj.

GPS sledilnik najdete na tej povezavi.