With a good steady breeze least Saturday the squad met at Cowes Corinthian Yatch Club, this weekend was the 4th weekend out of 5 planned winter training seasons, all focused on individual sailors advancing their skills, to aid them with Match and Fleet racing over the next two years.
The squad are currently all looking for selection for the 2018 Blind World Match Racing Championships, due to be held this September by the Royal Northern and Clyde Yatch Club. The sighted volunteers and coach have worked hard to understand Match racing in order to develop the teams skills, but it was true to say there was a lot of excitement on Saturday morning for the arrival of Ian Williams, 6 times World Match Racing Champion.
Lucy Hodges MBE, commodore of Blind Sailing welcomed Ian and explained blind match racing, as there is only one real difference from the racing you compete in, and that is the buoys that mark the course make acoustic sounds and the boats make a different noise depending on the tack or gybe they are on. Ian was keen to get out on to the water and see this in action. Lucy also explained to Ian that under the rules of World sailing the crew is made up of three sailors adding to a total of 6 points but the helm can only be a B1 total blind, this means that communication is key.
The squad spent Saturday on the water working in teams putting together the skills they had been taught over the winter. Ben Hazeldine supported Ian running exercises that would allow all to show what they had learnt. The breeze in the Solent was 8-12 knots which stayed till mid afternoon.
Having the experience and knowledge of Ian Williams for the squad was a large honour, Ian jumped on board each boat giving feedback and support, this also allowed Ian a chance to see how it worked between the crews and see for himself some of the challenges the crew have to overcome to sail the boat around the race track effectively together.
After a successful morning the team had a chance to have a Q&A season with Ian and a chance for Ian to feed back to the group, it is was great to hear that Blind Sailing is not that different to able bodied sailing and the feel, communication and good base skills is key.
The team are back in Cowes this April for the final part of their winter training and selection process .
GBR Blind Sailing would like to thank Ian for his time and also all the volunteers that made this weekend run so smoothly.