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  Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Tales from the sharp end

GBR Challenge bowman Matt Cornwell
Cornwell: Loves his job

Bowman is a grunty job for young, agile, fit guys who do not mind getting cold, wet and bounced up and down all race long.

It is an action man job but you are also the poor sucker who gets sent up the mast or to the end of the spinnaker pole if there is a problem.

If the deck is moving a few feet in the swell, you can guarantee that the top of a 110ft mast is moving miles.

You have to be keen to endure the physical and wet conditions and sometimes you just have to pull your socks up and get on with it.

But if you are into it that is the fun side as well.

Personally, I love doing it and would not want to do anything else.

But maybe in five or ten years when I am a bit longer in the tooth I might change my opinion.

There is a bit of a hierarchy to it and as you get older you tend to move further back.

I am primarily in charge of putting up and the different headsails and spinnakers and helping the mid-bowman lug sails up and down from the sewer.

But a bowman is also heavily involved in the pre-start.

The bowman rules the front of the boat
A bowman's life can be cold, wet and scary

On an 80ft boat the helmsman is 70ft from the bow so I act as his eyes at the front.

I really enjoy the pre-start - it is a tactical role and it is nice to get involved with the helmsman.

He has a microphone and talks to me through an earpiece.

I cannot talk to him except for shouting but it is usually pretty loud and there is lots going on.

But we have worked out all sorts of different hand signals for all different scenarios.

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