I learnt to race in an International Cadet. Here I am in a borrowed boat at the 12th National Championships held at Burnham-on-Crouch in 1978. I finished 29th out of 111 boats.
I was sorting through the office looking for the Car's manual and I come across a pile of old old sailing magazines and newsletters and among them I found this picture.
I remember being bitterly disappointed in the one heavy weather race of the event. I had just rounded the 1st mark in 8th place, we got the kite up and were taking off when a sudden broach ended our hopes of a good result, the water pressure had caused the blade to move back from the vertical and when I tried to correct the broach the pressure snaped the blade.
The lesson has lived with me; make sure your blade stayes down! I use a sheer pin these days! It's a bit of a pain when racing in shallows but I never have problems with the blade sliding up in a blow.
I sailed Cadets for 3 years and it was great fun, I didn't win much, my best result was a 4th in the Blue Circle SC open meeting 1978 and even at the club level I was always chasing the leaders in my ancient boat. Unlike some kids I didn't have my parents trailing me about and cheering me on, spending thier hard earnt money on new sails, fittings and the best equipment. That's not to say they were not supportive, they were but most of the time I cadged tows to events and got most of my support from club members and the cadet fleet captain with the result that I gained confidence in my own resources and how to mix and work with others. I got a paper round to earn money for paint and fittings, I bought second hand what I could and asked about for free stuff. I was given an ali' mast to replace the old wood one and someone gave me a spare rudderblade, the local boat builder sold me a new centreplate cheep when mine busted, I just had to paint it. I think it did me good and I learnt the principle of giving and recieving, helping others in a sort of 'pay-it-foward' kind of way. Later in life I discovered that this is a truly Godly principle but you have to do it without expecting anything back, just do it because you can and someone else needs your help. Such an attitude has it's own reward. I don't know how it works, it just does; its the 'divine economy' of God. Thinking about it maybe I should see what I can do for the Junior fleet this year; just because I can.