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News 1999

"Does the Social Secretary sail…?"

"...and the Sigma 38 National Championship has been won by Arbitrator!" The Irishman made his announcement and we all clapped and cheered enthusiastically as our skipper, Don, failed to appear to accept the prize and we pushed our mast man towards the front to hold the Waterford Crystal goblet above his head in true Italian style. We had won! It had been a long week and we had 'raced hard' but it had been worth all the bruising (of bodies and egos) for this moment and the glowing pride of being National Champions.

Within a few short hours we were reaching our way back across the Irish sea and I had time to reflect on how, within 18 months, I had gone from novice cruiser sailor, to Pit girl (Halliards) of the winning Sigma 38, beating 23 other highly competitive boats.

The first nine months of 1998 had been pretty awful and I was hitting a late 20's crisis by the end of the summer. I was very stressed out at work and realised that I needed a hobby that would distract me from the agonies of speedy commuter London. I found myself writing a list of goals I wanted to achieve in my life and the words 'sail across the Atlantic' appeared before me. It dawned on me, that this would never happen, unless (as with so much in life) I made it happen. Flicking through Floodlight, I found an advert for Dayskipper Theory Classes, underneath an advert for the London Corinthian Sailing Club. In a moment of decisiveness, I made the call and a kind, friendly voice invited me to go down to the club that night (Tuesday) to get a 'feel for the place'. I duly traipsed down, only to discover that the friendly voice belonged to Maggie, the wife of Chris, the Manager, and I was greeted by friendly smiles and good beer. By the time I made my way happily home, I had signed up for the classes and put my name down for the (infamous) Offshore Rally.

Within a few months I had dinghy sailed on the Thames (courses) and crewed for Mark and Susan Lewis on their Sigma 33 (Buckshot) in the Solent. In addition, I had made many friends and was enjoying an active and exciting social life, a million miles away from the stresses and strains of work.

At Christmas, I signed up with Peter Hopps on the chartered J120, Jacaranda, to compete in the RORC series and the Fastnet race, and in May, I completed the Dayskipper Practical at the Hamble School of Yachting.

By last November, when I put my name down on the RORC crew register, I had many sailing miles under my belt, and ended up with a choice of boats to crew for. As luck would have it, I decided to go for the place on Arbitrator.

So there you have it: From Yachty Totty to Winch Wench in 18 short months. As this is the closest I will get to an Oscar speech (I'll save you the tears!) I would like to thank the Offshore Group, and all those at LCSC who have encouraged me and given me the training that helped me to be part of a winning team at Cork this year. And to all those people reading this and toying with the idea of a new hobby - go for it!

Fiona Hinton, Social Secretary

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 26 Jul 2000