Saturday, June 23, 2007

The day I first raced a dinghy

I was thinking about the first time I raced in my Cadet, back in 1976 I think it was. I was used to sailing on my Dad's cruiser, a 24 ft Bilge Keeler: Trident.

We mostly cruised the east coast and the occassional holiday across the north sea to France, Belguim and Holand. So when my Dad sold his boat and bought the hull of a new boat to fit out, he spent a bit of cash on an old Cadet (CK1346) and some new sails, for my sister and I to sail. One windy day my sister and I, under the watchful eye of my parents, went out for a sail and soon capsizd; that was it for my sister, she never stepped in the boat again!

So I asked my best mate to crew for me and as he had some experiance he agreed. So the day came for our first race, again it was another windy day and we started badly and were soon chasing the leaders. I was quite happy sailing along with a good bit of heal on her but my mate kept on about sailing it more upright but hey I knew best, I'd sailed for years, I knew what I was doing! and it was my boat and I was the skipper. Somewhere up the river Roach we capsized.
Course card of Burnham Sailing Club 1976.

The rudder assembly started to drift away and I grabbed that but I just didn't know what to do.
A passing Squib (open Day boat) picked us up and we abandoned the boat. Soon we were back on dry land watching the boat being towed back by the rescue boat along with a bunch of other Cadets. Fortunately the boat was unharmed. My friend never crewed for me ever again, we remained friends and did plenty of other things together but never sailed together again.

I learnt a great deal that day like 'sailing a dinghy is quite different to sailing a cruiser'. But more than that, I learnt that I need to listen to others even if I think I know more. I just wish I could remember the lesson when I really need to!

The Cadet Newsletter front cover from 1978, the last year I sailed Cadets.
Happy Days! 
I finished 29th out of 111 boats with an 8th  as the best result! 
It would have been better but I had to retire after a nasty broach when the 
rudder blade snapped! (I was lying 10th at the time!)
This is me, with crew Sylvia Johnson, sailing Orange Squash CK6690,
a borrowed boat, at the 1978 Nationals on the River Crouch & Roach, less 
than half a mile from where my first race ended abruptly! 

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