Skandia Team GBR

Monday, July 03, 2006

Start them young, Nail the Start

Ok another non-sailing / racing weekend has come and gone, guess; at least from and Ent perspective I’ll have to get used to that for the next few months…

It was another series of high’s and lows… Saturday was “interesting”, the footie was exciting, my kids could only stand to watch the first half and then the penalties, such a shame we went out, my eldest son is getting into football and it would have been great if his first championship that he would remember finished on a high, hey ho….

Sunday was wet…actually it was the middle of an English heatwave, but things got wet later..patience and I’ll get to that bit; I spent the morning in the conservatory in 94 degrees of heat wrestling with holiday websites…

Normally each year I’m faced with the challenge of “the nationals are in place X, get good accommodation there”, this is relatively easy…. However this year its “find a place to go on holiday with the family that’s not too hot and not too far (we think youngest child may freak on his 1st plane trip) anywhere in the world… I can’t do it.. I’m failing miserably; its almost tempting to find an international sailing event on the same time as we want to go away and try and book accommodation there!!

Anyway afternoon came and I sat in the garden, Claire chilling, kids playing in the paddling pool (playing nicely as well!), I pulled up a chair at the side of the pool, popped my feat in the water and settled in to watch them playing…SPLASH I got soaked, the buggers ganged up on me and before I knew it I was drenched with lots of buckets of cold water, felt like a force 5 being battered by big waves… So I had to make things a bit fairer.. a spare bucket lay at the side of the pool, with a lightning quick pounce I was up to my ankles in cold water and distributing a quick succession of overhead pours and water flicks… we were now all soaked, we had a great laugh in the heat and after what seemed an age we gave up (not much water left in the pool)… after some more chilling out we decided to wander up to Draycote to give the kids a sail (and to feed my sailing habit a little).

Got there and the breeze that had been around had died a little, some decent gusts but overall it was barely a F2, but the kids didn’t care… so with the little one asleep with my parents, me and Rowan launched and went for a sail, he looked great in his new lifejacket, a cool blue crewsaver one… out towards the start-line we went, he helmed most of the time, getting straight back into the vague groove he had last time; sat looking quite aloof on the side-deck, tiller-extension in his little grip sailing a not-so-straight course towards the pin end of the start line. With all the boats around the start I took over we had a sail around, did some roll-tacks and gybes to get him use to the angles of the boat and its “instability”…. I explained the start-line and the start-sequence, not sure how much a 6 year old will remember but you have to start somewhere!

As we were sailing along the start-line with my illegal, little Solo-crew watching for other boats etc I noticed the wind swing 3 mins before the start to favour the pin-end (port) of the line, previous starts were starboard favoured, I explained to my lad that we were gonna do a radical move, a “port-tack-flyer” and nail the fleet…. He liked the idea of that, so did I and just hoped I could actually do it and the breeze wouldn’t shift back!! So 30 secs from the start it was still pin favoured by about 10 degrees, we hit the line at full speed with Rowan watching under the boom for the starboard tack boats, we crossed about 2 secs late which wasn’t too bad and….. the wind held, we had a small gust and we nailed the fleet (well half a dozen Solo’s and a Miracle)… Rowan liked that… Daddy bloody loved it as well! (Sailing habit at this point now sufficiently nourished)

So we sailed a half decent first beat, Rowan enjoyed watching the other boats and working out whether we were ahead or behind… we got caught on a crappy lull and header and a couple of boats past but ¾ up the beat we clawed it back again.. so we rounded the windward mark in first place… Rowan stepped up and took over the helm, I told him where the next mark was and away we went on a broad reach past the club… it was quite a long leg but Rowan sailed pretty well, a little zig-zaggy for my liking but it sure did stop the guy behind (John Coleman) having any chance of passing us!!

Good old Rowan held the lead on the downwind leg, well done son, we rounded in the lead and into a bit of decent breeze, Rowan was ready to stop racing, I kinda pushed him on a bit.. we got headered, I helped him tack but he didn’t duck enuff, or rathr I didn’t get his head down low enough and the book gave him a little bang… no marks but the shock upset him… trust me to screw things up… we bore off and once he was consoled I convinced him that it was OK to stop racing but lets have a sail for a few minutes more…. He was OK with that, for me it was very important to finish the sailing off on a high.. going in after a little bump and him being upset was not the memory I wanted to leave him with…

So there was a few gusts tracking down the reservoir, we headed for them, me helming but Rowan sat by me, feet under the toestraps ready to some leaning out… we hit the gusts, maybe got on the plane and had a good blast for a while, he enjoyed that, he lent over face first and I duncked his face in the water..he laughed, he went out to the stern and dragged his hands in the water… phew we were having a good time…!

Tacked round and the Rowan got onto the foredeck, straddled the mast and we did it again, a blasting (ish) reach to the club he liked it there, a bit of spray, the wind in his hair, some excitement, I rolled the boat a bit to get him used to being at unnerving angles, that worked and we finished the session, a little damp, the wind ruffling our hair and big smiles..fantastic… we got to shore and there was Flynn, ready for his bit of action on the water!

So Flynn didn’t want to race so we just blasted about, he went “fishing” with the “Main-Street”, so funny he couldn’t get main-sheet right, but hey at 3yrs old who cares! He played the main, did some mega-leaning out, we rocked, we rolled, he helmed he tried to gybe, he tried to tack we hit a gust and he yelped with excitement, I think, he was certainly smiling, so for around 30 mins we played with the wind and the wave(lets), waved at his brother and he wandered around the boat getting used to it all.. great fun…. Then we went in, he’d had enuff, he was happy, so was I, lets go in before daddy spoils it! As we went in I jumped out a little to early and nearly fell out.. Rowan and Flynn both laughed!!

So we got changed, put the boat away, they went hunting for fossils on the “beach”, we had a drink and a snack and chatted to a few people.. then home… a curry on the patio and then bed for the kids…. A couple of glasses of wine later and some hedgehog and frog watching (oh and I saved two frogs who were stuck in our drain) and it was time for bed for us too….

Night-night…. I wonder of the kids dream about boats and sails and wind and water tonight….?


Fuff said...

Wow! That sounds perfect. Really nicely written too. Your boys must have had such fun.

Tillerman said...

Well done Dad. You're doing a great job.