Six local sailors and eight visiting sailors arrived at Marconi SC on a decidedly chilly Saturday morning for a Sprint 15 Training day at Marconi Sailing Club led by Howard Hawkes.
A pre-session briefing took place over coffee and bacon rolls which is, as we all know, a mandatory part of any proper training. Participants had been asked to pre-register to give an idea of the range of experience and what people wanted to gain from the day. It was quite a diverse spectrum from learning how to tack/gybe effectively, some racing practice, how to return to shore in an onshore breeze plus a slightly more broad comment of “why am I always at the back of the fleet”.
The training started in earnest with a shore-based session running through boat set up, the importance of having a very tight trampoline and talking through how to tack without stalling. All of which is a lot easier to do when everyone is stood around a boat on dry(ish) land.
The fleet then took to the water for the morning session. The wind had eased from quite strong to fairly light and the water was flat – making for nicely manageable conditions for the first sail.
A proliferation of Go Pros on the RIBS meant that (a) we would be able to review the sessions when we came off the water (the reason we gave to the participants), (b) everyone was on their best behaviour and (c) potential opportunities for future website / magazine / blackmail material were maximised (the real reason but don’t tell them).
A triangular course was set to provide tacking, gybing and three points of sail practice with the RIBS following and filming. The fleet came ashore for lunch and took the opportunity to review some of the footage from the morning session – particularly around tacking and trim when sailing downwind.
After lunch, the wind had freshened making for ideal sailing conditions on the flat water. A committee boat and race course were set up and a series of short one lap races were run to give a good opportunity for practice starts and sailing in fairly close quarters. During the first race, Rob Bailey from Thorpe Bay kindly provided excellent footage by turtling in the middle of the river, which Howard naturally filmed for future training (blackmail) purposes.
With some cajoling from the team on the coach boat and the committee boat – participants were encouraged to keep a very tight pre-start sailing area and after a couple of races, the start line was nicely busy and competitive. The coach boat also took the opportunity to follow different participants to film and offer some tips. After a good afternoon’s sailing, the fleet headed ashore to debrief over coffee and cake.
The majority of visitors left their boats at the club to take part in the Traveller Event the following weekend which was fantastic. Unfortunately, we forgot to film the sailor who got his Transit stuck in the mud in the cat park (until a tractor was arranged to come to his aid) – so I can’t officially use that for blackmail material.
A big thank you to our guests – Paul Shields (Seasalter), Andrew Berisford, Gordon Deuce (Brightlingsea), Donald Sloane, (Felixtowe Ferry), Chris Tillyer, Steve Healy, Rob Bailey and Darren Fitchew from Thorpe Bay. Well done also to Andy Perks, Dave Clarke, Antony Bailey, Nick Pavitt, Dani Pavitt and Steve Thomas from Marconi who are all very welcome additions to our fleet!
Thanks to Howard for heading up the training – to David Ball, Kevin Kirby, Liz Jackson, Pete Richardson and Fenella Miller for assisting and Dave Russell, Abbie Russell, Jason Clarke, Paul Metcalfe and Pat Shaw for providing support boat cover.
If you are interested in running a training session for the Sprint 15s at your club (and possibly inviting other local 15ers) – do get in touch with Howard to set something up. If you want to chat through from a local organisation perspective – I am happy to share the benefit of our (positive) experience.
Jenny Ball Catbert 1917