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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Meanderings of a Mature Helm

After I'd been drawing my old age pension for a few years I realized what everyone else had noticed, in that I'm not as nimble as I once was. Also, while I'm willing to take the boat out when there is a chance that I might capsize, I'll no longer go out when there is a certainty of it.

With this in mind I decided to just enjoy sailing at Yeadon and to h*** with being competitive.

So the race was on; I had a relatively stress-free start without too much "up-up-up!" and noticed a whole bunch of boats going left on starboard as is their wont. Plenty of room on the right – why get all the hassle and dirty wind from the crowd – tack off to the right and as the first mark is to port, I can approach it on starboard. I do, and find two or three of the original bunch have to tack off behind me – nice surprise!

A short leg, then a long (for Yeadon) port reach to the next starboard hand mark. My old rival Greg is just in front of me, and he's a dreadful luffer, so I sail deep, well below his wind shadow, and find I have water at the mark as I harden up and speed up over the last fifty metres.

Another windward leg comes up and I realize that by observing the boats in front of me I can deduce where the most favoured wind is, and anticipate the lifts and headers coming along. By this means I've gained another couple of places without doing anything brilliant.

Next leg's a run. I choose to sail it on starboard to claim right of way, even though it's a bit dodgy by the lee. Blanketing the boat in front, who's on port, he sees me coming. His panic gybe onto starboard is ill timed, and I'm up another place. After a reach that's too short for anyone to benefit, another beat.

Two boats in front of me are locked in mortal combat - so intense that they don't realize that whilst covering each other on port, three toppers having a nice reaching race on starboard are uncomfortably close and have right of way. I don't want to spoil the Toppers fun, so sail well clear, and find that I am in front of the discomforted and unseeing pair.

Another reach, and a different boat just in front of me. It's Tony, and I don't like being behind him. Nothing for it but to concentrate hard on boat trim, keep it dead upright, transom just out of the water, watch the sail like a hawk and respond to every flutter of luff, leach and telltales, and just manage that extra tiny percentage of speed to get water at the next mark.

A couple more legs and it’s the dead run again. All of us on starboard this time, so I try looping out to the right on port. I'm in clear wind as I close the mark I've gained enough over one boat to claim room for a starboard rounding – and enough for the gybe!

Another beat and I'm following old Stan on port – some ten/fifteen meters behind. But I get a lift and he doesn't – or maybe he's sailing for a bearing on a shore mark and not watching his sails. Anyway, when he tacks I can cross him, then tack and cover him to the next mark.

So it goes until I notice we've been racing for nearly an hour, we're on a long beat towards the clubhouse, surely the OOD is going to ring us off but to my surprise, there is only one boat in front of me.

He makes the fatal mistake of not covering me, and sails into a hole whilst I remain in respectable wind. I'm just crossing the finish line when the bell wakes me from my dream.

A fictional tale, with characters that are no way based on members (past or present) of Yeadon Sailing Club. I did, however, find some truth and advice in its content.

First Published Spring 2007

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

New online Chandlery

We have received news that a new online Chandlery has opened, for more information visit www.nare.co.uk, they are also offering club members 10% discount, visit the forum for the promotional code.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Round the Island Race Report

‘Our crew of ten had all made a contribution: trimming sheets; steering; winching; acting as ‘pit-boss’ and, most importantly, brewing-up.’

Looking at the pictures of the 2004 race taken by Glenis – white knuckles on the rail, sou’westers with hoods up, flags flying sideways, stiff as a board – we thought, ‘What fun!’ and decided, as a club, to send two crews to this historic race, as David Hinks reports.

In addition to Tantrum Too (last year’s boat) Tim Hattersley commissioned Juba, a 44ft Bavaria from the same stable. Tim also arranged the pre-race meetings for those new to the race and/or big boat sailing. Tantrum Too had Rob
Phillips (skipper); Glenis; Janet; Pete; David; Giles; Steve and Andrew. Juba had Don Goode (skipper); Tim; Sarah; Helen; Cath; Pete Appleby; Gerrard; John Doré (our
Commodore); Terry and myself, David Hinks.

On Friday, our group went in Tim’s luxurious car – thank you again, Tim – while others flew, and said it was surprisingly cheap and convenient. Provisioning the boat was next and Don Goode and I made sure that a full English breakfast was catered for which, I believe, threw Tim’s budget out a bit.

On to the marina at Hamble Point. A hectic time was had stowing gear and familiarising ourselves with the boat, then gingerly backing out from the finger pontoon for a short practice sail down to Southampton Sound, while we awaited the people coming later.

We set-to learning about winches, topping lifts, life jackets, harnesses, and all the rest of the paraphernalia on a modern sailing cruiser. Wheel steering, too, was new to some; all very different from going round the other island on Yeadon Tarn! The day ended with a meal at The
Boomerang, together with Tantrum Too’s crew.

Saturday dawned: Race Day. So, what do I remember most?

Motoring down the Hamble in the morning mist, together with hundreds of other yachts – time to spot some famous names and to point out some features. ‘If it’s got a very tall mast, with three pairs of spreaders, it’s an out and out racer.’ Sarah gets busy with her camera.

The crowded start-line with sixteen hundred boats (including Ellen MacArthur in B&Q), many with barely steerage way, listening on the radio to race control countdown for our division (we found out how to do this just in time), trying not to drift over the line, and waiting because of a postponement, as a huge cargo ship throbbed past.

Our satisfaction with a good start and the steadily increasing breeze as we passed Yarmouth and the Hurst Narrows (no longer drifting but sailing!). We passed The Needles, heeling to a nice F-3 breeze. It’s an anxious time for navigators: there are sizeable chunks of a wreck called the Varvassi strewn all around The Needles, as well as some outlying rocks just below the surface.

Big discussions about whether to make a long tack offshore, where the wind would be favourable (and also the tide, for part of the time) or tack in close to the Isle of Wight. We chose a big tack out to sea – were we going to France, after all? In retrospect, we probably went too far out.

The satisfaction of knowing that our tacks and jibes were getting smarter under Don’s tutelage, who always made sure we were working safely.

Sail-tweaking, which was the order of the day. It wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll, crash-bang-wallop weather, but a perfect English summer’s day, with a misty start, breeze filling in, a stronger wind dying in late afternoon, and a cooler breeze to finish in the evening.

As we turned round Bembridge Ledge buoy and broad-reached back on the return leg through the Forts, we were treated to a fine sunset, viewed through a forest of multi-coloured spinnakers.

It was at the Forts that our foredeck crew of Gerrard, Terry and John came into their own, using the heavy spinnaker pole to gybe the foresail, with a practised air, as if they’d been doing it all their lives. Although we didn’t have a spinnaker, proficient use of a well-set foresail saw us overtake, or at least keep up with, some higher-rated boats. We were bringing the evening breeze up behind us, too – could Tantrum Too be far ahead?

As we entered the final leg and crossed the finish line, with navigation lights twinkling all around us, we heaved a big sigh of relief. After calling at the declaration barge, we belted at full-speed back to the Hamble, under engine. It was now quite dark. We made a vain attempt to make our dinner-date at The White Hart but, despite our best efforts, it had to be cancelled as it was well past eleven o’clock. We spent the rest of the evening socialising with Tantrum Too’s crew, who were berthed alongside us, enjoying bacon and sausage butties and discussing the race. Juba finished behind Tantrum Too, but in the first third of the entrants overall.

Our crew of ten had all made a contribution: trimming sheets; steering; winching; acting as ‘pit-boss’ and, most importantly, brewing-up. We had three or four navigators on the go, including Pete and John and, notably, Cath Jordan, our youngest crew-member (who’s already taken some RYA exams). We have introduced some crew members to big boat sailing, and others to sailing on the sea for the first time, and all had an enjoyable and safe

Photograph courtesy of Sarah Woffenden
First published in Autumn 2005

Messing About in Boats

Since our family became members of Yeadon Sailing Club three years ago, we have joined members on Tuesday evenings and practised our sailing skills under the watchful eye of the volunteers who kindly provided a safe environment for ‘new’ and ‘untested sailors’. This year has been exceptional in our view. On Tuesday evenings, we have had the opportunity to practise in our own boats in safety, to sail with members in their boats and to share the club topper, which has allowed Luke to go solo. Luke enjoyed the six-week junior race training programme,

Sandra tried the adult race training ‘taster’ and Andrew has begun to race.

We attended our first Commodore’s Weekend and really began to feel like members because this was an opportunity to talk to others, have a laugh with them and watch the junior contingent demonstrate how effective the junior training and the Tuesday evening tuition has been.

We have enjoyed this summer at the club and cannot think of any other club or organisation where so much is so freely given. Lovers of the sport of sailing are so
willingly sharing their passion and passing on their skills.

We blame Neil entirely for Tuesday evenings; his tuition, guidance and support to all has been wonderful. He would be unable to provide these without the support of other members who freely manned the safety boats and gave their time so that newcomers can have the opportunity to try sailing and we want to say THANK YOU!

Andrew, Sandra and Luke Cowling
First Published in Autumn 2006