So, I’ve decided to start exploring my water-based roots and return to sailing, a sport I first tried in 1984/5 aged 13. Why you might ask? Well sometimes, when you don’t live on the coast Kitesurfing is just too much bloody trouble. First you need wind and it really needs to be above 12 knots or 15 mph to make it worthwhile. Then it needs to be coming in onto the beach at the right angle: anything with cross in it will work (cross shore, cross onshore); direct onshore is OK but the risks of being dumped on land are higher so care must be taken; and offshore is a real NO NO unless you have a rescue craft to hand. Once you have wind in the right direction you need to check out tides and other often seasonal restrictions – kitesurfers have quite a big foot print and with four 25m 200kg lines flying around we are generally unpopular with health and safety.
So if I’m returning to my roots what are they?
I learnt to sail at the West Wiltshire Youth Sailing Association when my dad decided it was time for us to learn (I think he learnt in Africa and wanted to get his boys on the water again so we could get our own boat). I passed my Level 1 Dinghy Sailing Certificate on the 7th June 1986 (Same weekend that Tropical Storm Andrew ripped across Southern England) in a Topper and have never looked back. At the club we had Toppers and Otters but Dad started the family off in a Mirror.
For the family our home club was Shearwater Sailing Club near Warminster and at the weekends, wind permitting, we would either be there or at an away day arranged by one of the clubs. If the mood took us Dad and I would awake early and head for Studland Bay where even if there was no wind in the morning our determination would be rewarded in the afternoon with a gorgeous sea breeze.
At the sailing school I was really lucky and they had a very active youth racing squad. Some of the lads were older than me by 1 or 2 years and one had a Dad who was National Mirror Champ but that didn’t put me off and I was going head to head with them within the first year. This led me to get selected for a couple of national races where I held my own and from there my love of racing grew. Before long Dad’s own racing had improved and with me always crewing for others he upgraded to a Laser which I promptly stole for all my own races 😉 .
I continued to sail for a number of years until the demands of being a teenager outgrew the call of sailing. Much later 1998 ish I spent some time working with someone who owned a 420 and that relit my need to be on the water and powered by wind.
More will following on this re-adventure of old enjoyments but for now these are the boats I have sailed: Topper, Otter, Mirror, Laser, Cherub, 420.