28 “students” took to the water in perfect summer weather for a Cat Training Day on Saturday 18th July. The day was arranged in response to a request from Beth Spencer, Cadet Fleet Captain – but it was decided to open it up to all members.
The day started with an onshore briefing to give a dry-capsize demonstration and general safety considerations when sailing a cat. With the cautionary tales over – everyone went off to get rigged and onto the water.
Participants covered a full spectrum of age and cat sailing experience – from those who had never sailed a cat before to competitors in the Junior Cat Champs and RYA Youth Nationals. The sailing was therefore split into different groups so that the tuition could be tailored accordingly.
The groups then took to the water on Sprint 15s, Dart 16s, Dart 18, Topaz 14s, Spitfires plus a Viper, Hobie, F18 Nacra and Tornado – a total of 18 boats covering different courses on the river. Coaching was provided either on the boat or via coaches on a RIB or sailing with the fleet. A decent breeze in bright sunshine made for a glorious sailing session practicing upwind/downwind, tacking/gybing and, in some cases, kite sailing. Two boats decided to go for a proper baptism and capsize – this and most of the action was caught on Go Pro by our two illustrious Rear Commodores on one of the RIBs.
After a leisurely lunch, the fleets headed out on the water again. The big cats decided to go for a round the island sail whilst the rest of the fleets opted to shorten their sailing areas – making for tighter courses to hone sailing and boat handling skills further. Unfortunately, the wind got progressively lighter so some of the younger participants decided to develop trapeze acrobatics and man overboard skills instead. And one of the coaching RIBs might have accidentally capsized a Topaz 14 for entertainment purposes. The fleet did not come ashore until 6pm and this was followed by a swimming session for the cadets, making the most of the wonderful weather.
A huge thanks to everyone who participated and to Jenny Ball for leading the day and orchestrating a band of helpers including Paul Metcalfe, Kevin Dowley, Kevin Kirby, Pete Richardson, Fenella Miller, Ben Cross, Graham Cross, Lee Harrison, Pat Shaw, Adam and Julie Ferneyhough who gave up a full day to provide coaching and safety boat support. Without their help, the day would not have been possible. The day was a big success (particularly with such great weather!) and we are reviewing opportunities to run further sessions in future.