By Annie Hammett (Rooster Ambassador)
After winning the Girls title at the RS Feva Worlds in Florida with my crew Emma, thoughts turned to what I would do after Feva’s. The last two years have been amazing fun since Emma and I first did Mengham Youth week and I realised that two people is double the fun of one, so the Optimist had to go. Now after only 4 months in the 29er I have a lot more to learn but when Rooster asked me to write about what it was like to transition from a Junior to Youth Class it does feel like a lifetime of capsizes ago.
I first got into a 29er in June and after a few sessions with John Mather and my brother's old crews. I then sailed the 29er Nationals that were at my home club – Hayling Island – with Alice Masterman who was an amazing crew. I think I doubled my time in the boat at the Nationals and had such fun with Alice to finish 16th
overall. We even won a race which was Alice’s first race win at the Nationals despite being Girls National Champions a few years ago.
Below are some of the points that I picked up along the way:
29ers are wild and fun
. Downwind over Hayling Bar in 20 knots of wind was pretty scary but I felt that with the work with Alice I was just about in control. The Feva was pretty crazy but nothing is like the 29er - amazing fun in a breeze.
Get a mast float and a good wetsuit.
One of the first things about the 29er, to start with you do capsize a lot so a mast float to save energy (and the mast) is vital, so is a good wetsuit. I got one of the new women's Supertherm
's from Rooster. A mast float that slides down the mast
is a good bet.
Practice with someone experienced to start with
. I was lucky that I had some very good crews with me before I got in the boat with another youth sailor. They can just make sure that all the mistakes come from me and the boat is so much more stable. This was great for learning how to helm a 29er.
Get shorts to protect your wetsuit.
One thing the 29er has are big foot loops for the crew and you need shorts to protect the wetsuit of they get chewed up – my Dad got me some Rooster Wear Protection Shorts
Get used to the middle/back of the fleet
. When you have moved from a Junior class where you are one of the better sailors, then transition to the Youth class, you are, all of a sudden, the youngest and there are 18-19 year-olds, highly skilled sailors in the fleet and it can be intimidating. So it is important to get used to sailing in the busier parts of the fleet and realise that it will take time to learn the boat.
Get Fancy Dress.
The 29ers have a fancy dress day on the last day of the Nationals and also a big last night party in Black Tie.
29ers are expensive toys
. Early on in the 29ers, I did manage to find one of the sandbanks on Hayling and the daggerboard “reshaped”. My Dads face told me this was quite expensive, the boats take a lot more care than a Feva. We have to change the ropes a lot, especially the halyards and other control lines.
Overall, moving into the 29er has been huge fun and while I miss some parts of the Feva experience. It's good to be in the 29er with my new crew Zac, we have enjoyed our early events in the 29er. In fact, we qualified for the 29er RYA Youth Squad and have so far enjoyed the boat very much – its also a very fun and enjoyable fleet. The transition was not easy but with hard work, it is just about possible to compete in the Class now.