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Kit Guide

Sargent Family Capsize Adventure

By Sargent 30th September 2020
Matt and I agreed that we needed to do capsize and turtle drills with the kids in Zoomy after friends had a capsize entrapment incident at last weekend’s 2000 Inland Champs. We did the drills a little earlier than planned... This afternoon we went Sunday club racing as full team Zoomy (Matt, Gwen, Johnny and me) in Chichester Harbour. We were speeding downwind flying the kite quite happily, discussing what colour sweets were which flavour and agreeing that the kids really needed proper sailing caps not cutesie floppy sunhats. We started the gybe and met that unfortunate combination of gust and stopper wave. If it had just been the two of us at this point as crew I would have slam dunked myself across to windward and we would have carried on, slightly off the pace. This was simply not possible in a dinghy busy with kids. So the inevitable happened. Over we went immediately turtle. The three of us crew popped up in the light and airy cave underneath. The kids took a deep breath then I shoved them outside. I then helped them climb up onto the upturned hull where Matt was sitting. The marvellous rescue boat crew arrived and took the kids aboard. Matt and I were then able to concentrate on our normal drills. We pulled Zoomy onto her side and I dropped the kite fully. Often I’d only take it half down but it was now windy so it was better to keep it all clean and tidy with a full drop. Matt then ensured a good recovery with an Eskimo roll, lobbing me inside the now upright Zoomy, before he climbed in. The kids stayed safe and happy in the rescue boat, who supervised the end of racing, while we sailed Zoomy home. We arrived at the beach just ahead of the rib so were able to lift cuddle the kids ashore ourselves. We welcomed them with a warm dry hat and dry biscuit and all was well with the world. We had a family debrief in the lounge when the kids were warm, had drunk plenty of fresh water and had eaten too many chocolate marshmallows. The kids led on most of the answers to What happened? How could we have stopped it happening? What we did to cope with it? And what would we do differently next time? We kept upbeat and confident. We agreed that you are going to capsize sometimes sailing and that we’re in UK so the water is cold but that’s why we wear all the complicated kit. We made a big deal about the kids being brave and tough and how proud we were of them just getting on with it. The kids were full of the story of their rib adventure. Their last rib ride was a sedate trip watching seals. They thought it was funny that the rib driver got soaked by the waves coming over the front. They were interested to see plenty of other dinghies capsize and recover. Then the adventure was closed and CBeebies and Lego were of more interest once again. So what have we learned today? It is utterly essential to dress correctly even when that means that the kids moan and groan that it takes so long to get ready. The kids were very cold having been fully immersed but not dangerously so. They were still witty and wicked while undressing. Both wore rash vests, full wetsuits and wetboots, gloves, spray top and trousers, and good life jackets. Their Rooster Aquafleeces worked a treat. The high neck especially helped when they were exposed on the rib. The small Aquafleece works perfectly well on an infant school child because you simply fold the cuffs back deeply. Our policy is to always wear less than the kids to make sure we don’t stay out too long. So I was cold. Then again I haven’t capsized for over 2 years so wasn’t dressed to go diving. I was beautifully comfortable in the same outfit last weekend in varied conditions of high wind and rain to hot sun with no wind. I wore Rooster Poly Pro top, bottoms and socks, Aquafleece, Race Skin, Hikers and boots with a spray top and cap. A little bit of dynamic boat sorting and I warmed up just fine. Matt was wearing Rooster hot top and hikers, boots and spray top and was completely warm. But he is like a furnace. Did we make the correct decision to race today? I think so. Thorney Island offers good club racing with a strong team we know and trust. When we set off it was windy but excitingly so. Once we were out we flew the kite at every angle as we would without the kids. We’ve always agreed that the point at which we don’t want to fly the kite is when we shouldn’t be out with the kids. Today we reached the decision point to cut the race short and go home with a quick nod and gesture so the kids weren’t alarmed. We decided to keep the kite up for our homecoming gybe to keep the boat nice and stable. Then the unfortunate swim. But the kids have gone to bed tonight happy and confident in their adventure. I’m very grateful for our excellent club rescue team and our lovely shoreside homecoming. I’m booking glorious weather for our next family outing... Matt on the otherhand has just set off for a wet and windy week skippering a yacht racing around the Solent. I hope his crew are as tough and brave as the kids.

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