Sailing Report for Ben, Dicken, Sam, Chris and Pip (as written by Ben Palmer)
I will give you a synopsis of Dicken, Sam's, Chris and Pip's year…
It started last Autumn, when Dicken, Sam and I started training in an Etchell in February, two weeks after our Caribbean holiday which was a shock!
We were training to win the youth trails and to get given an Etchell to race for the season. The trails were apocalyptic windy, and we chinesed-gybed very well, once. Even though, we were still successful in getting a boat for the season.
Obviously there is Bourne End as well where Dicken and Sam in Lady Jane did well at hedge trimming and beach visits. They also enjoyed the social side and I think we (Dicken, Sam and I) won the social and some of the racing. Vagabond had some success as well.
Dicken and Sam then went and did the Three Rivers and Nick Fibben's report of that gives you a good summary.
By this point Dicken had dropped out of our Etchell campaign and it was Sam and I with Hayling member Paul Childs. In June we won the Bedrock Trophy a big weekend of Etchell sailing with 17 boats.
Previous to this weekend we had shown moments of our true potential but there was always a problem; be it boat maintenance, borrowing a boat with sub-par equipment ,or mistake here or there. I was starting to get frustrated as I knew we had better potential.
We were 6th after the first day on Saturday, consistently posting reasonable results which I was happy with and there were no big mistakes (like sending your kite 2 boat lengths away from the boat in the water) and we raced really well. That Saturday night was big social and we went hard congratulating ourselves on every beer for our days sailing, (quickly I feel asleep at the bar, I can't keep up with ex-Finn sailors). Sunday; we were a bit dusty but the conditions were perfect, northerly 10 to 15 knots very shifty and very changeable (not your normal perfect conditions). We were always struggling in the drag race conditions due to our limit time in the boat compared to teams with 20+ years. In these conditions we could just race, and we did, posting two seconds when everyone else was all over the place.
The last race was a story.... we didn't know we were in contention for the win at the time, the first start was general recalled at, just after this start our jib fell down. The halyard broke......
We laughed and our training in February paid off as this had happened before. So we used the spinnaker halyard instead. The race was then a black flag start, and a double tack, I called at 30 seconds to go, was risky. We came off the line in bad shape and we were convinced we were black flagged (turns out we weren't). So we let caution to wind and went to have fun, we took all the risks on the first beat, digging into to the right hand side, and then cruising over the top of the whole fleet, bow down, trav down ringing the bell and laughing.
Poor Sam in 20+ kts has to drop the jib at the windward mark, run to the pointy end of the slippery deck whilst we are ploughing waves, untie the halyard, tie it on to the kite and hoist the kite. Then before the leeward mark drop, untie the kite halyard and attach it the jib and hoist the jib. We had to do that for 3 runs, so we lost a few places but not many, finishing 4th. Due to other people's results this gave us the win.
Then there was Salcombe week:
3 time back-to-back victories for Dave Winder and Pippa Taylor saw them as favourites. However for 2 months prior Pippa hadn't sailed as she had damaged her back.She hadn't stepped into the boat before the first race. Unfortunately two black flags scuppered their chances of 4 consecutive wins, but there is always next year…
Then there was the RS200 nationals, which Dicken and I were attending. The week before the nationals I ended up in hospital with serve abdominal pain, and only decided I could go a day before. The first few days were pretty painful, but I slowly got better during the week
I managed to pull myself up to 7th, discarding my first day results (maybe I should have stayed onshore). Dicken finished 14th after sailing a really strong week but he came undone on the last day, likely attributed to smashing all the socials.
Cowes Week next for Sam and I in the Etchell, we managed to finish 5th, we were holding on to second the whole week but came undone in the last few days due to consecutive days of heavy drinking. It was a fun regatta, more an orienteering exercise and without a functioning radio and GPS, relying on a map and judgement winning was difficult. Many a time we found ourselves asking why everyone is going over there. Before quickly realizing we were looking at the wrong yellow mark.
To round off the season, Chris Kilsby won the Merlin Rocket Inland Championships with new helm Chris Gould. They absolutely dominated the weekend, with superior speed in the changeable 10 to 20 kt conditions on Saturday, and showed calm and sharpened racing skills closing out the weekend in the light wind difficult conditions on Sunday. Dave Windar and Pippa Taylor finished 5th.