Well with a great start to 2020, being back at South Cerney Sailing Club and joining in with their winter racing their Chill Dog Series. Our focus for winter training was time, time ashore, time to ask a question and time to think. Sailing at South Cerney allowed the sailors to spend time ashore then hop out on the water and practice but also come back ashore and ask more questions then go back out again.
We also use the winter to train new skills like spinnakers our focus being, that the sailors no matter what sight level understand and are able to crew and helm with confidence with a kite, this was a key to our racing plan for 2020. February was a windy weekend but turned into great learning and a windy adventure out on the water.
Saturday was forecast to be too windy, so theory ashore was quickly sorted, with the team broken down into four groups, and our sighted volunteers and coaches supporting the learning we had great fun learning more about, key to a start, the Ven diagram, spinnakers, rules. Small groups gave time to ask questions and also stop and take it back a step if people needed to clarify. Then it is thanks to Terri and Jonny for a great Saturday night feast at the club, a hearty warm dinner for all.
Sunday we woke and the breeze was still blowing but the forecast was due to drop by 12.00, with club racing due to start at 11.00 the AP went up, but just before 12.00 the club called the racing off. But with consideration and a strong look at the weather paten the Blind Sailing team saw the wind dropping and we rigged and headed out for some racing inviting club members with them, 9 boats took to the water and several safety teams.
This weekend we also welcomed two new sighted volunteers, Hazel and Fran they fitted in straight away and it was amazing to watch two teens learn to guide and then take to the water in tricky conditions but with confidence. Thanks to Gavin and Kate who stood in a race committee and gave us three good handicapped races, the wind was kind and gently dropped and the sun came out.
March was a tricky weekend right as COVID19 was taking effect, Blind Sailing ask all sailors if they would like to attend and it was great to have a group take to the water. Saturday was a key day getting to grips as a team and learning how the boat worked and most of all the spinnakers ready to take part in the Chill Dog racing on Sunday. A start line of 25 boats and it was great to see Blind Sailing crewing or helming five of them.
The weather was different to March a lighter shifter breeze across the course but is was great to see all the teams working hard body weight and movement was key, keeping the boat moving and making the most of the guests. It was great to see Ben Hazeldine and Edward Kitchen take the win, it was also a great moment to see some of our new sailors hit the start line with 25 boats and watch Kate Healy helm her first race, Kate sail “it was a great feeling the trust and confidence Malcom put in me, he never flustered, but kept installing confidence, we may have been at the back of the fleet but what a feeling, to take the helm in a race”.
Our last weekend on the water was in March just before the Monday lockdown, but was great to end on a high.
We cannot thank all of the team enough and all those that help on shore, we had new volunteers from the Albert family, Chris bother and nephew, Paul mum and Judith’s husband it makes on shore work like a dream.
It was true to say as we left that weekend we wondered what the weeks ahead would be like and wished everyone well.