Well the Sargent familyseason has now well and truly started, and it's shaping to be an absolute cracker! Not that I ever thought I'd write about a season starting, but between the weather this winter, which didn't allow sailing when we were free, joining a new Club at the start of its membership year, and the involvement of Gwen and Johnny who at 8 and 6 are probably just a little too small for all year round, it does have that feel about it.
It's been a start to the year that really has made it all seem worthwhile. The time on the water has been great, and we've also seen a lot of the other stuff that makes this sport so good. As we hinted at in our 'If not drowned then not Duffers' post a few months ago there is are so many life lessons to be taken from the sport, some terrific role models and some wonderful people.
Our new club is Emsworth Sailing Club. It's made the news recently because of an incident in which a car was driven in to the club, resulting in a fire, which damaged a significant proportion of the club premises: https://picasaweb.google.com/106947422647025248988/ClubClearUp1May14?authkey=Gv1sRgCNLiusiUx5PpggE#slideshow/6008390038003771826
. Thankfully the club's catering franchisees and family escaped from their flat without injury. These things were of course the most important....but the fire happened on the Monday before the first of Gwen and Johnny's, long awaited sailing lessons. There were therefore some family considerations too! But the Club committee and its members have done a terrific job: organising building work, security, emergency electrical work, professional cleaning and work parties to scrub smoke blackened equipment. Great skills and that terrific spirit to get stuck in and sort things out. So much so that the club was open for the first Saturday, with a smell of smoke no worse that if a BBQ were being fired up too windward.
Then last week (after Saturday's Opi lesson) we set off for Broadstairs at the very end of Kent for an Open Meeting in Zoomy, our 2000. This was to be a little different: Gwen and Johnny were going to crew at a two day Open on the sea for the first time. The welcome from the whole club could not have been more friendly, and we were extremely lucky to be put up by Roy and Mary, whose hospitality alone would have made for a terrific family weekend. And there are some terrific young adults in the fleet who made Gwen and Johnny feel very welcome and involved, by showing loads of interest - thanks Katie and Sarah.
And what of the sailing. Well Opi training at Martlets is going well. The water could not yet be described as warm, but the combination of wetsuits with polypro, aquafleece, spraytops and then Rooster aquafleece neck gaiters is keeping the kids toastie warm and therefore happy. We've found that at this age a wetsuit of the right length seems always to have space for extra gear beneath it, and the Rooster gear makes all the difference. As it warms up we'll move the aquafleece to the outside. Johnny is also very happy to have his Junior Black Diamond Bouyancy Aid: a reward for moving up a swim class, and very comfortable and indeed secure, with an excellent leg strap system. Week 1 was pretty windy and the kids had great fun sprit racing and sailing two up. Last week was lighter and good progress was made with tacking. Today was very blowy, so a classroom session on knots and then capsize drill for all. A hardy bunch they proved to be, with few squeals....Gwen and Johnny were among the warmest and were steaming nicely when we peeled off the wet polypro.
Broadstairs went brilliantly. We had a long wait for wind on Saturday, and then raced in 6-8 knots. Johnny came out first. We had a good start and first beat, and were fourth for the first lap. Unfortunately I then overstood the windward mark, and we dropped to 6th, but 5th when the OCS was applied. The rescue boat was extremely helpful and swapped Gwen in to the boat between Race 1 and 2. The strategy and tactics were now clear: tide was the major gain factor up and downwind, but to be in best shape, it was necessary to nibble at the shifts on the beats, and hunt for the pressure on the runs, while staying away from the edges: with a dominant port tack it was very easy to overstand, especially if the wind went left. We had another great start and secured a 5th, before struggling a little more off the line in Race 3 and finishing 9th. But we were all very
happy with 5th overall overnight. It was certainly a different experience racing with the kids: the questions rarely stopped, and were actually quite helpful in resolving the tactical picture a lot of the time.....and its certainly more charming when Gwen is wondering what flavour ice-cream to have, than Clare pondering what to have for dinner!
Sunday saw a littlle more wind, and perhaps less tide, which was now lengthening the run not the beat: as ultralight weights (unusual for me!) we weren't complaining. Johnny led off again. Our start in race 4 wasn't great and we rounded the windward mark in 7th. We went for the big tidal gain factor and gybed first to head in shore. I was delighted when we let Rob and Katie Burridge cross us on port....more so when they tucked in behind us at the leeward mark which we reached in first place! Sadly a snag on the drop put us back to fourth, but we recovered to third. There wasn't enough water for a crew change, so Johnny did the whole session. We bagged another third, and then a poor start (too careful on the black flag) on a short cause meant we finished with an eighth. Enough for fourth overall. It's a measure of the Club that Broadstairs found us 3 glasses as prizes and printed certificates too: now that's how to get a happy crew. They're all smiles here (scroll down): http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/176080/2000-class-at-Broadstairs
So what's to come?
Well we should have an interesting mix to blog about in dinghies: more tales of Teras and Opis for the kids (and some more thoughts on developing that enthusiasm); some more 2000 stuff for all of us, and some thoughts on our rig set-up experiments; the RS300 for me (terrific but tiring Sprint Champs last month); and then the wacky stuff: two-boat team-racing in J80s in July, some match-racing, and the Three Peaks Yacht Race. I suspect that fitting rowlocks to j111s is a little bit too much of a specialist subject for a blog post....but I'll let you know about training and racing for this crazy adventure race. Enough to say for now that I'm getting some serious miles of running in....and that I reckon if Steve were to re-run the 'strangest place to wear your poly-pro' contest this year, then I reckon the top of Ben Nevis might be within with a chance!