Friday, September 19, 2014

Gybe School and Tack Academy - intense training as I prepare for glory

According to Facebook I announced my intention to sail at the Inlands in October. Probably a rash or drunken decision – I've barely sailed an RS300 a dozen times and never managed to stay upright in more than 15 knots.
But a deadline looms so it's time to grow a huge pair of Kahunas and tuck them into my Big Girl Pants.
Wednesday 17th September. Gybe School.
A light North- Easterly and an hour of daylight. I launch and head out to be greeted by an unmanned Walker Bay dinghy drifting across the river. A fisherman on the far bank spots the drifting boat and moments later the owner emerges. My plan to sail past, pretending not to see the boat, is foiled. Taking a vessel under tow with an RS300 isn't simple, especially when it has no painter and a mast and the RS300 sailor has no skills.
I manage to come alongside and grab it, making my way slowly to the bank. Releasing it proved more difficult. Its mast hits mine whenever I try to push it forward towards the owner. His dog swims out to help and decides to climb aboard my RS300. We drift precariously towards the shore, me, the dog and the boat.
Eventually I manage to shove the dinghy across to the owner and the dog follows. I reverse back into the river and continue.
Today I'm mostly gybing. Coming in fast from a reach it's noticeable how little pressure there is on the sail as the boom comes across. Keeping the boat flat coming out of the gybe seems important. I heel to leeward as a gust arrives and almost capsize – it's less than 10 knots and I can still sail like a muppet. With darkness falling I head back to the club.
What did I learn today? I can rescue dogs and sail backwards. A true champion should be versatile, kind and generous. Box ticked.
Thursday 18th September. Tack Academy
Another light one with not much water. The wind is blowing straight up the harbour so today I'm tacking all the way out to sea (about 2 miles away).
Making my way down the harbour I notice Highcliffe Sailing Club's fleet launching and follow them out to sea. They are milling around at the end of the buoyed channel waiting to start. Tempted to ask if I can join in I decide there's not enough time to race and get back before dark so I carry on past them. Tacking is slowly improving in light winds – windy is another matter.
The wind is dying and the sun is going down – it's a beautiful evening – possibly the last one I'll sail this year. Time to head in.
Am overtaken by the chap in the Walker Bay on the way up the harbour who offers a tow. Expecting a grateful beer back at the Club I politely decline the tow but hurry back. There was no beer waiting for me.
What did I learn today? Sunsets are beautiful and gratitude lasts a very short time indeed. I'm not rescuing his sodding boat next time.


  1. Hi Chris,

    As you've discovered, gybes can be a bit tricky. Best bet is to use the kick bars in the bottom of the cockpit. As you prepare to gybe, put your weight on the windward kick bar which will heel the boat to windward and initiate the turn. This means you use less rudder so there should be less heel as you come out of the gybe (but you'll still have to move smartly to the new windward side in any breeze).

    Happy to show you at the Inlands either before the first race or between races.

    Steve (411)

    1. Thanks so much Steve! I'll be following you around like a lost puppy all weekend! Any advice gratefully received. Looking forward to meeting you and the guys on Saturday.