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Getting To Know The RS21!

The RYA with RS are developing opportunities for all to race in the RYA Keelboat League. A type of racing we love here at Blind Sailing, 12 minute races and with little time to dwell on the last race, as you're quick into the next one.

Another new club to visit and be part of their RS21 training over the six weeks was Hayling Island Sailing Club, a place that again provided all we needed in one place, and it was great to have Niall Mayant- Best back coaching.

With September and the RYA Sailability Keelboat league approaching fast, Blind Sailing was keen to train in the RS21 and show those sailors looking to be selected what they can expect from the boats. Commodore Lucy is a big fan, and says "they're fast, responsive and you feel very safe in a good breeze, but they soon let you know like a dinghy when you've got it wrong".

The team met, with the sun shinning and a good 15 - 18 knots of breeze blowing down the river. Niall was keen to get us all going so as we knew the boats first hand, he gave us a run down of what to expect and what to look out for. The aim of the morning was windward - leeward to get all crews going and familiar with the boats.

Jonny C, Dennis, Sarah and Vicki kit up and heading down wind in the sun.

Well it was a shock to some just how smooth the boats performed and the need to ensure your weight was in the right place. As Niall said, not a boat for us to relax in.

We came a shore and were spoilt by our team of volunteers who made us welcome with a feast and lots of cold water. Little did we know the fun was aboard to begin.

The warm sun and the great breeze were just the ingredients needed to play with spinnakers. For some, it was the first time and for others it was a new boat playing spinnakers.

This is where in the report we turn to Kate Healey for her account of the weekend, before we wrap up.

"Not sure what I was expecting but before returning to the water, we had a chance to get a hands-on feel of a spinnaker, and its corners. We talked through how it's deployed, flown and then packed away a picture I and many of my sailing buddies tried to paint in our minds.

"Once we were on the water every boat had several successful attempts to fly their spinnaker, every team encountered similar issues when trying to launch - a bit of a twist, put one big pull in and it was out. We all swapped roles as we got more and more familiar with the feel and some started gybing down the river. I know and felt that there was boats full of smiles.

"After the first day’s training session one of our onshore volunteers could be heard explaining to one of our sailors that she had had to explain to a member of our host sailing club why our coach could be seen and heard constantly giving verbal instructions. Everyone from Blind Sailing knows the reason that he shouts is not just because our sailors have sight loss but also because he is a very enthusiastic coach😊 Niall brings passion to all and is always looking to advance individual knowledge of all members in the large group.

"Our first training day ended with a discussion of how we thought the day had gone, and if we had had issues, if possible, how did we recover from them and what had we learnt. The twist when launching the spinnaker was a pattern from across all the boats, and it was highlighted to give the sheet a pull as the launch of the kit was halfway. A tired but happy team we left for the bar or a quick nap.

"That evening we socialised over dinner and a few drinks; some of us took the opportunity to have a gentle stroll along the beach, as the club is in an amazing setting and of course, the sun helps.

"Sunday morning dawned with more wind than we had the day before and after breakfast, we started the training day again with a briefing. As we had to go home after the day's training session it was decided that we would have a longer training session in the morning, and due to the strength of the wind we would also use three boats instead of four meaning that we’d have five people in each boat, another chance to practice how we might race in September. Having five people onboard meant that everyone on board became familiar with each other and, again in the stronger breeze, was key to have all weight on the side..

"We continued our spinnaker training and despite four broaches every team had successful down-wind blasts with the spinnaker up and new helms learnt how to control the broaches with their crews. We learnt that it was about finding the knife edge of balance that would make the boat blast along. We also worked on sailing up wind in more breeze, sailing just inside the jib keeping it moving, and for the new main sheet trimmers it was about playing the main, not letting it out too far so the boat would slip sideways and not forgetting to pull it back in working with the helm.

"The day was ended by yet another welcome lunch and a debrief. Everyone from sailors, and volunteers to coaches had an amazing time and we all left for home with a fuzzy feeling, well I definitely did."

Great to hear from Kate who is one of our B1 sailors who takes every opportunity she can.

Great thanks to RS and Hayling Island Sailing Club, Niall and all our volunteers - it was a busy and fun weekend.


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