Dinghy Sailing at Wildwind
Corinthians go sailing at Wildwind in Vassiliki 19th to 26th September 2010
In September, a group of 15.5 Corinthians went to sail at Wildwind in Vassiliki on the Greek island of Lefkas. The sailors were Jenny and Brad, Catherine, Sandrine, Kerstin, Peter, Adrian, James M., Nigel H. and Claire T., Ed H., Ed B. and Claire W., Karen M. and Clare H. The 0.5 was Nigel's and Claire's little boy Aedan, who had a way of charming all the ladies, although he is only eight months old.
Wildwind is a small sailing centre set in a beautiful horseshoe bay with ideal conditions: a relatively flat sea and predictable thermal winds (or so we were told - during our week there we actually did not encounter this absolutely predictable wind a single time). About 10 minutes walk away is the village of Vassiliki with a picturesque harbour front with restaurants and bars which saw a lot of us late into the night quite frequently.
The boat fleet at Wildwind is impressive ranging from plenty of Picos and classic Lasers to Laser 2000/3000, RS 500/800, Hobie catamarans in all varieties to high performance skiffs like 29er and 49er. Some of the boats looked really quite scary. An almost flat board with two wings on the sides for the crew and helm to stand on in trapezes. Ed and Nigel tried an RS 500 one day and mastered it well even with spinnaker, although Nigel complained afterwards that he felt like he was overweight, since every time he moved an inch the boat almost tipped over.
But back to the beginning. As our week started, all the sailors were split into three groups: beginners, mono hull and catamaran sailors. Jenny, Brad, Catherine, Claire T., Claire W., and James went to the beginner group. They received plenty of tuition throughout the week and sailed around in their Picos as a little fleet of their own. Ed H., Ed B., Sandrine, Peter, Adrian, and Nigel went to the monohull group and Karen, Clare, and Kerstin went to the catamaran group. Throughout the week we all tried out different boats however. The instructors were all very friendly and helpful and showed us how to come to grips with the various types of boats.
On Monday morning, our first day on the water, the wind was blowing approx. Force 5-6. Everybody had a blast (and a few capsizes). By lunch time we were all quite shattered, which was just as well since in the afternoon the black flag went up and all sailing was banned because of too much wind. Time to admire the windsurfers, who really got their kick out of this kind of weather!
Tuesday was the complete opposite, not much wind and hot. We were waiting in vain for the promised thermal wind in the afternoon, which failed to turn up. The wind was a continuous source of bewilderment throughout the week. It would blow onshore one moment, then die completely for 5 minutes, then blow from the opposite direction before going back to the original onshore. It made for some interesting sailing especially on the race day, where being in the right position when the wind shifted unexpectedly could make a big difference.
Wednesday and Thursday saw good winds and we all had loads of fun zooming around the bay. Except for Pete who was left slightly traumatised in his Laser when two unnamed ladies ran him over with their 16 foot catamaran! On Thursday afternoon we had a little race training. Knowing the tendency of the catamarans to be bigger and faster and less under control (sometimes!) than the other boats, they were sent off on a different course to everybody else leading them out of harm's way out of the bay around an ominous rock, which meant that Ed H. and Nigel and Ed B. and Sandrine returned well over an hour after everybody else when we had already had our first beers.
Friday was completely dedicated to racing, with all boats competing together on a sausage course in a total of 6 races. The wind was challenging, quite light most of the time and constantly shifting (the start line was moved 3 times before the first start).
We had all practised to hover around the start line just before the start the day before. Easy in a Pico or Laser, not so easy in a catamaran. Fortunately most(!) of the catamaran sailors were considerate enough not to barge through the middle of the fleet on the start line. Apart from us there were a number of Germans at the resort, who were largely quite experienced sailors and fuelled our competitive spirit in the racing (Kerstin's loyalties in this instance lay with the British team!). As an added bonus the German word for jib caused some giggles (look it up).
The racing was a lot of fun, and we ended up in some good positions. Catherine won in the Pico fleet with Brad coming second. Considering that he had hardly sailed a dinghy before, this was a great result. In the Laser fleet Kerstin came third and Adrian fourth. Adrian had only sailed a Laser for the first time in Vassiliki so this was a great success too!
On Saturday unfortunately the weather was so bad that we were not allowed out. The wind wasn't actually that strong and when has lashing rain ever deterred any hardy river sailor. But there was a risk of thunder storms throughout the day and the management didn't want us electrocuted on the water. Fair enough.
Overall it was a fantastic week of away sailing in warm weather and blue seas in good company with plenty of opportunity for everybody to do what they enjoyed, be it learning better boat handling, try out new boats, improve their skills in spinnaker handling, catamaran and trapeze sailing and so forth. It was a lot of fun to go there with a group from the club, share all the excitement of the sailing and go out in the evenings together (Zeus bar anyone?). A big thank you to Ed B. for organising and looking forward to next year!
by Kerstin Exner
Photos Wildwind Photographer
Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 2010