The Blind Sailing nationals was hosted by South Cerney Sailing Club, a new club to Blind Sailing but home to two of our volunteers Jonny Stevenson and Malcolm James. Friday kicked off with a familiarisation day for the sailors. The boats they would be using for the regatta were Flying Fifteen’s, all donated to the charity by the owners for the weekend. Flying Fifteen’s were a boat that many of the visually impaired competitors and volunteers had not sailed before.
The format for the event was a 3-person combination with a blind helm, jib trimmer and sighted main trimmer who was also in charge of tactical decisions and boat speed. Initial thoughts were that it’s a bit a squeeze! But the teams soon got into a good routine and started to fall into a groove which was reflected by the positive feedback from Flying Fifteen owners watching from the shore.
Beside the new boats, the biggest challenge for the sailors would be the unpredictable conditions which became obvious during familiarisation. The wind was light but also very shifty making smooth steering input and quick reactions crucial for good boat speed, all of the years training was to come into play.