I have taken a short break from 200 sailing this month. Recently I have acquired an international 14 which is renowned to be one of the more difficult and time consuming boats to sail. However, with Itchenor as my home club it is a complete no brainer. Whilst I have not managed to get out on to the water yet in my boat "Poppet", I was able to grab a ride with 4 time world champion Archie Massey who kindly showed me the ropes (excuse the pun) for the Hayling Hull where there were about 15 boats out.
It is a completely different type of sailing.
Short term tactics take a back seat, whilst minimising maneuvers and maximising boat speed is key. It was so much fun, fast, frantic and I was nowhere near fit enough. It is a different kind of fitness with the huge loads from the limitless spinnaker (hoisting and dropping especially) mixed with a lot of technique and timing, it was like learning to sail all over again! We managed to put a good series together though counting a 1-1-2-1 to win, needless to say I'm not sure I can take much of the plaudits. My kit was very good and a new key piece for me and probably any skiff sailor is the Compression Bib
; the Rooster one is great as it has grip tape around the bottom to stop it riding up. It did not get caught on anything and my SuperTherm Longjohn
& PolyPro Top
were enough to keep me warm even in April!
The next weekend I was off to Majorca for the Palma Vela regatta where I am the main trimmer for a Swan 42 called "Long Echo". The team are heading out to the US this summer for the New York Yacht Club invitational and I cannot wait. The 42 is a great boat that is very difficult to sail fast as it is so tweaky, however it is very heavy so unfortunately does not plane downwind, unlike the TP52 in our class that horizon jobbed every race. Class rules state that it must be owner driver and this for us is Barry Sampson, an Itchenor member who learnt to race in a Sunbeam only 15 years ago, however that has not held him back and it just goes to show it is never too late to pick up a sport/hobby as he sails the boat beautifully as well as being a very nice person to go with it- it is much nicer to sail with someone like that. It was a great weekend where we had variable breeze from 20 knots down to 5 which was perfect for us who were using it as a training regatta. Unfortunately I missed the Friday of sailing but we managed to get 2 comfortable 2nds (behind the TP) in a very competitive fleet where we had great upwind pace and the maneuvers all went smoothly so it was definitely a weekend of positives. I have previously always over heated when I have to wear a hat so I used the Rooster Visor
, however, my hair line has now forced me into the change and the Aeromesh cap
is a great substitute. Breathable, lightweight and elastic makes a comfortable and competitive option for those of us who can get a bit hot headed every now and again. The Pro Race gloves
stopped my hands taking a beating as well which is nice.
Then we get to last weekend which was the Wilson Trophy, the British Open Championship of team racing, the unofficial world championship. We went in with a fair bit of confidence from the UK Nationals where we had come 2nd to last year's winners, the Royal Forth Hoosiers. We started well and managed to keep the win ratio high. The way the Wilson Trophy works is that there are 2 days of a "Swiss League" which calculates who races who on a round by round basis and it will always try to make sure that you race a team with the same number of wins as yourself. However this does mean you can have a run against a lot of hard teams whilst someone else sails easier ones. Unfortunately we nearly got caught out here and started a losing streak just at the wrong time and it looked like we would miss the quarter finals, but we managed to string together some wins at the end and scraped through. However in the quarters we met the current World Champions and home team, West Kirby Hawks, who made light work of our messy starting and took the quarter final 2-0 and eventually went on to win the event.
So all in all a busy few weeks, but it is time to get stuck in to the hard work now. Need to get my cycling miles up on Strava, get the hiking legs back in to form as it is not long till the championship season starts, I cannot wait!