Rutland Training Reports
& Sallyís Training weekend
with another 7 boats from Hampton Sailing Club (I use our full title
advisedly as Web-bloke has a habit of referring to the Hampton Ladies Lawn
Sailing and Drinking Club) I set off for Rutland Water on a chilly May
travelled via Hyde Sails in Benfleet to retrieve our spinnaker, which I had
inadvertently torn in an excessive show of strength when Ellie couldnít
pull it down at Chichester when wrapped round the forestay fittings.
I can give you a short piece of advice on visiting Benfleet in the
rush hour. We
turned up at dusk and sprayed all six tyres with disinfectant before
felt like November.
Some keen people were still putting masts up and so forth.
We headed straight for the club!
The pack-bearing vagrant who had arrived at the same time as us
revealed himself as Ben Alsop, scion of the mighty Dan, but of his father
there was no trace.
We had been instructed to repair to the Wheatsheaf for food on
local intelligence reports, later proven accurate, deterred us as the pub was
The remainder of our course gradually assembled, with the
Bowen-Perkins setting the tone by arriving late, ordering an impossible
quantity of beer and then revealing that Tom had managed to blow the engine
of his car on the way having bought it a few days before for £300 to replace
the previous 3 he had written off.
Just as we felt we were getting into the swing of it the bar closed,
but it was 11:30 by the time we were dislodged by the staff finally turning
off the lights.
The next morning set the pattern with a chilly north-easterly breeze
making it feel more like February than May despite the sunshine.
Short briefing and then out on the water for a series of short races
round a triangular course.
Back in for an early lunch and then out to practice regulating the
speed of the boat, strung out across the lake following Dan like imprinted
practising starts properly.
After we had done this a few times we were all so good at it that we
were all on the right side of the line before the start!
(Salcombe black flags here we come).
That evening 15 hungry Hampton sailors set off for the Wheatsheaf in
Edith Weston, as instructed by Dan and Scotty, to find food.
BUT!! with the change of management that had closed the pub the
previous evening there was no food to be had save packets of pork scratchings.
Off we set into the dusk to find a cafť.
It had closed 10 minutes before we arrived, but locals said there was
another pub down the road that did food.
The truth was that a hotel a mile away did food.
Though a bit gobsmacked by our arrival, they coped brilliantly, and
most of the course participants found their way to it eventually.
We nearly drank them dry, but the manager seemed incredibly pleased
about it all. I blame foot and mouth.
day still the chilly NE wind and a little more of it. Out on the water quickly for some more short races and then
on to do tacking and gybing practice. All
in a line, all tack on the whistle, then as soon as you are up and running,
whistle goes again, another tack; you get the picture.
Reasonably straightforward, but then the same for gybing with
spinnaker up. The trick for me
was keeping the boat completely level; I have had to unlearn a lot of river
sailor's manoeuvres, this was one. John
Bell then swapped with Ellie and we went off to sort out my helming.
John showed me what it meant to get the boat flat and powered up - by
now it was blowing a steady F4 - and I had to unlearn my tendency to pinch
all the time. Downwind was a revelation.
After a question about which string did the business, up went the
kite. There were a few little
waves running down the lake by now. With
encouragement I bore away on the next one to pass and with some mighty
pumping of the spinny we were off! Can't
do that on a river, alas! The
wind was getting up all the time and so after tea the Champions (John and
Graham) went out to demonstrate single pole gybing in a blow while Mike
Calvert took Paul Gilbert's boat with Flipper crewing to show the way with 2
poles. John and Graham's swim
was duly captured on video for all to watch in the bar later, amid much
ribaldry and what the Germans call Schadenfreude.
The evening that followed was the Course Dinner.
These events do get a bit hazy in the memory these days.
I remember winning a quiz and tying some yellow ribbon, but I still
donít know why.
day. Still perishing cold NE
wind and yet more of it. The
sailing club was meant to be having a regatta, but our 20 Merlins outnumbered
them. A quick race and then
sailing round a square course: two beam reaches, a run and a beat.
The added feature of this one was the compulsory 360o turn
on every leg. Bear in mind itís
now blowing the top end of F4 with some interesting gusts.
We got a bit carried away with just planing down the reaches till
called to order by Jennie King stalking us in the RIB.
Then on to the final series of races.
For this the slower folk like me had the benefit of a start a minute
ahead of the hotshots. Sadly, in
the first race I hadnít paid attention to what we were doing and set off to
the wing mark instead of down the run when leading!
Another thing to learn Ė just remember to sort out the course
because after all this training you might get round a mark in the lead some
time! Unfortunately I couldnít repeat the performance, but I have
to say we were going upwind better than ever before.
and smiles all round at the end. What
did we learn? Firstly practicing
a lot of things we do not terribly well once in one race every weekend and
never come back to get right. I
learnt a whole series of ways to lose places at the windward mark, but with
all the short races you go straight to the next thinking, ďright, donít
do that one againĒ. Starting;
over and over again. Then
boathandling skills over and over again.
I must have put in about 70 or more gybes over the weekend, probably
30 on the windy last day. If I
canít keep the boat flat gybing and bearing away now itís not for want of
trying. I got a few bits and
pieces of my rig and control lines sorted with more modifications to come. You can put up with a badly-placed cleat or line if you use
it 2 or 3 times on Sunday but when you have just done 10 spinnaker gybes you
realise how much easier it is if everything works 100%. So finally folks, just a repeated thank you to all those in
the class who give up their time to help us mortals sail faster and get more
from this great sport and great class.
and Ellie Mills, Elusive 3347