Last night it was off to Emsworth Sailing Club for the Junior Sailing opening brief. Gwen and Johnny really enjoyed catching up with some friends they hadn't seen for a few months and were quite pleased that they'd done a lot more sailing than most. It left them feeling really confident for our planned family sail this afternoon.
So I boat butlered for the family this morning, with a little help from the kids. It always makes me smile when the Director of Training at the Club reminds us that the kids need to learn to rig the boats for themselves. There's a huge amount that a seven year old just can't do, like sticking the mast in. We've done some work on the Teras to add hooks in the outhaul system so that we can roll the sails quickly on coming ashore and then focus on getting hot squash and chocolates into the kids - but Johnny still isn't really tall enough to reach the boom! Anyway there were some raised eyebrows among the Thorney Island Sailing Club Chiller competitors when they noticed the Teras on the shore.....and a few outrageous suggestions that I might be quicker in one than in my 300.
It wasn't quite windy enough for that! We had a lovely race round the harbour. Great 'fitness' sailing conditions for the early season: a mile long close reach on starboard, then hardening up, still on starboard, cheating the tide on the East Head side of the harbour, for what felt like an eternity. It was great to see I hadn't quite lost my mojo, with some difficult tacks in the waves just outside the surfline on the west side of East Head. The key was getting the right amount of roll, and squeezing the sheet at the right moment out of the tack. It was great to be nip and tuck with Mark Reddington, also in a 300 at this point, and thankfully there was enough breeze for me to put my weight advantage to use. Dave Acres was well ahead as we started the downwind, but sailed to the wrong mark. I followed him and let Mark past me again, but with another beat anything could happen. I rounded 4 or 5 lengths back, with another mile and a bit of power reaching to the finish. Mark hikes amazingly well, and it took most of the mile to catch and pass him - I think we were both exhausted.
Then it was time for the joyrides. I'd promised Gwen and Johnny a trip in the 300, and conditions were just benign enough. So off we went. First we sneaked up on the rescue boat so that Gwen could 'Boo' her instructor, who was more than a little surprised to see her head bob up. And then we reached back to the Club in a big
gust. Big enough that both Gwen and I were hiking the 300 (Cambermet had a F6)! Things were a little calmer for Johnny's trip, but only a little. Unbeknownst to me he was getting squirted in the face from the daggerboard slot whenever we tacked, but I could see that he was sat in 'the washing machine' as we call that bit of the boat where the spray comes over the bow sections and through the cockpit. Adults don't usually have to sit there, but it's a prime location for the kids! Thankfully Johnny was wearing his Boatshow treat: the Pro aqua-fleece Lite. He was able to use the drawcord to pull the collar tight, but the soft aquafleece meant he felt all snuggly rather than annoyed. And the wrist seals and waist seal were already helping keep him warm. I don't think we could have come up with a more challenging test than sitting in the spray on a zooming 300, and the Pro Aqua-fleece Lite passed with flying colours. Definitely going to be a favourite in both kids' sailing wardrobe - and probably for Clare and me as well. It really helps that the colours are great too: Gwen has no problem wearing this blue, knowing that she'll hand down her Junior Medium to Johnny who's in Junior Small. It was the must have item from the show, especially as this is the time of year when it's needed most, but the kids tried on just about everything else too, and are looking forward to their next growth spurt so that wetsuits can be replaced with Rooster layers, and they can have Rooster boots. Gwen is just about big enough now, but ideally we'll go Junior Medium and Small at the same time, so Johnny isn't left out.
Then it was time to reverse the role. Gwen sailed her Tera, Clare supervised from an Opi, and now it was Johnny's turn to take me for a ride in the front of the Tera. We zoomed too, but I had a much greater impact on his boat than he on mine! I filled it full of water with my weight at the front, fouled his mainsheet, and by digging the bow in made steering tricky. So I was really pleased with how well he did, considering there was a 4 month gap since he last helmed and we had done only one shore-side revision session. Gwen sailed with confidence, chose to gybe rather than tack, and mocked her Optimist slowed Mummy! They came ashore toasty warm and beaming - and were allowed a record 8 Celebrations chocolates. No wonder they look happy in the photo!