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Hamble Winter Series - week 2

October 15-16

It's not often I get to see dawn breaking on a Sunday but then this was Winter Series and therefore no ordinary Sunday!! So as I opened one eye, scrambled for my glasses and squinted at my phone to understand why it was beeping, I quickly realised there was no turning over and curling up for another few hours, sadly 7 am was getting up time this particular morning!

Vague murmurings from the rest of my crew reassured me that they too knew it was time to stir and as I popped my head up on deck, and inhaled the damp air it was clear that things were already afoot on High Tension. The crew had had a great days racing on Saturday until, though rather surreally, skipper Geri at one point found herself enveloped in another boat's spinnaker in the middle of a race. They were nonetheless fired up by it and itching to do well again on Sunday.

Me Julie (skipper Mike Ridley) and Doris J (skipper Shaun Curran) had also engaged in some serious racing on Saturday. No mean feat when half the crew had never raced before! Consequently their crews also had a distinct air of anticipation interwoven with nervousness about what Sunday might just bring. Me Julie were not however looking for a repeat performance of almost losing their trainer John Goldsborough overboard twice during practice on Saturday afternoon!

Jumping JellyFish, however had an altogether more relaxing Saturday.

Notably when I had phoned them about 3pm to see what time they would be back to the Hamble that evening they were motoring out of Yarmouth having had a nice nap and ice cream! This was to come back to haunt us a little later on Sunday afternoon as it transpired.

All crews had been naturally tucked up in their beds before midnight on Saturday. Even the few from JJF who had braved 'Boomerangs' the previous weekend had decided that perhaps they needed to take this a little more seriously!! I have no idea whether, as the previous week, Doris J was hangover free but JJF were certainly quite proud of their clear heads and looking forward to an exciting day out on the water.

Concentration was immediate from when we were up. There were sheets to be sorted, decisions to be taken on what sails we needed, up to date forecasts to be obtained and all unnecessary weight and kit needed to be taken off the boats before we slipped. We joked and sparred a little with High Tension, as we both got ready for the days racing ahead. Breakfast was fast consumed, David having taken lessons from the JJF girlies, attempted to make porridge again the way 'we like it' and soon we were slipping and heading out into the glorious, cool, pink October air.

JJF slipped ahead of the other club boats. I had been unable to sail on the Saturday and the crew had worked out 'the best' gybing routine (so they assured me) and I was anxious to try this out before we crossed the starting line; I didn't want to let anyone down.

As ever when you have a number of club boats participating in something like the Winter Series, you end up with a race within a race. This Sunday was no different and we set off to find High Tension and Doris J and keep them close.

Suffice to say that the JJF crew are now looking for Saturday racing to practice before the next Winter Series race- further ice cream outings are now postponed!!

We all had some real learnings on the way round the course on Sunday. Not least the importance of communication amongst the crew and the art of listening carefully to instructions so that we don't have to round a mark for the second time to keep it on starboard rather than port! I understand that on Doris J there were a number of moments when they too could have missed the mark and other occasions when they could have almost kissed it!

I have heard tales of broaches where crew were up to their waist in water and 'kickers' with rather unfortunate stopper knots. We had some heart stopping moments with our spinnaker and learned that sheets with shackles that blow under load are not the most effective in 28 knots of wind and that keeping a look out at all times does avoid unnecessary broaches and last minute tacks! I think all crews have the bruises to show from a very lively day on the water.

High Tension had the best result on the day followed by Doris J. We all continue to learn new skills and fine tune those we already have. We are fast understanding the importance of building a real team spirit and our novice racers are beginning to believe anything is possible. I can already tell from the subsequent emails that healthy competition is mounting and I for one cannot wait for next week's rematch!

J.Burke (on behalf of Winter Series crews)

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 2005