This weekend's capsize recovery test was just like getting your exam results.
We have worked all year on the preparation of Moana for next month's Tasman row, adding equipment and making modifications we require for our month at sea, but we had to wait until today to confirm whether all that work impacted or benefited the most important safety test of all - self recovery in the event of a capsize at sea.
This exercise determines whether our boat will come back up the right way in the event of a rogue wave, or severe weather, leads to us capsizing.
It does happen - Shaun Quincey onboard Tasman Trespasser and the Indian Ocean rowing team both experienced capsizes on their epic rows.
There's always a slight bit of apprehension before a capsize recovery test. Have we made a modification or got the weight distribution incorrect and affected the boat's ability to self-recover?
So today was a crucial day. If the roll test went well - we stay on track. Any issues and it could set us back weeks, even longer.
We launched off Takapuna beach, keeping the boat in waist-high water for the first roll. All the deck hatches were double-checked to ensure they were water tight, the oars tied down, seats put away and Andrew and Martin locked themselves in the bow cabin. Rob took up position in the stern cabin and I donned a wetsuit to assist the roll.
The first thing we noticed was how hard it was to get over. Even with my 90kg frame trapezing off a line attached to the high side rollock (oar holder in non-rowing vernacular), getting the boat onto its side was a mission. That bodes well already.
Once at 90-degrees, we assessed the cabins for any unexpected leaks and then let the boat roll back upright to allow the cockpit to drain.
A quick team assessment confirmed we weren't risking unnecessary damage and could proceed with more tests that, after a few more rolls, led to a complete 180-degree inversion. By that stage, Andrew, Martin and Rob had joined me in the water and we all pitched in physically pulling the boat the entire way over, standing back and letting it comfortably come back up right under its own natural buoyancy.
As always, today's exercise has provided us with a few refinements but we were very happy with the outcome. It was also reassuring that the boat was light, in that it didn’t have all its equipment onboard which will only aid its capsize recovery ability. Result: A.
- Nigel Cherrie