The Winter Round-Up

Goodness me it’s been one busy winter.

I can’t believe the last time I wrote was back in November after the National 12 open. Now it’s March, and I’m writing just after the first National 12 event of the season – Burghfield.

You might not believe it from the radio silence, but we’ve been doing a lot of sailing. Well, we’ve been trying to do a lot of sailing. For much of the winter we sort of bobbed around Bough Beech on Di, sighing after the long gone gusts. But nevertheless, on board we have been.

The winter has actually made me very humble. When we took Di to Bough Beech I was confident we would get lots of practise in, and return to Shoreham for the summer triumphant, well-oiled, and raring to win all of the races. In reality, I’ve realised I’m not great crew in light winds (not great when you’re crewing in a 12). I think I galumph around the boat too much to be good in light winds. The slightest movement and Di wavers around, and I get reprimands of ‘Whoa! Easy tiger’ from George behind me. He’s very light-footed for such a tall person.

After the fourth weekend of very light winds, I was fully humbled: I am a beginner, and I’m still learning. And slower than I would like!

Over the winter we’ve had couples tiffs in the boat. There was that time when we picked up the start mark on the daggerboard and we both shouted at each other. Or the time when it sounded a lot windier than it actually was and I had a strop until George practically dragged me out onto the water to prove to me that it wasn’t that windy (it really wasn’t that windy).

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That’s not to say we haven’t had a great time, though! Throughout the winter season, we’ve had so much fun. We’re learning together. Me: how to sail. George: just how stubborn I can be (sorry, George).

After a long day of tweaking the rig, I caught this beautiful snap on the final evening of 2016. And what a year it’s been for us! One flat moved into, two fur balls adopted, one boat purchased, a new job, and two promotions. It was a big one!

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Spending New Year’s Day on the water was amazing. Freezing, but amazing. And what a fantastic way to start the year. You know what they say about beginning as you mean to go on…

I definitely feel that I’ve learnt a huge amount over the winter. And yes, probably much of that has come from sitting in Di peering up at the jib and wondering what on earth I should be doing with it.

One evening when we were both reading, I had a revelation. “George! George! The downhaul pulls the sail DOWN. The outhaul pulls the sail OUT. I get it! It totally makes sense! I’m never going to forget which is which again now!”

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The thing that is most obvious to me though, is what a brilliant helm I have. George is so calm, he makes learning fun, and he really knows his stuff. He never lets me cut a corner, and if that jib even thinks about flapping, he knows about it.

Over the course of the winter we sailed when it was icy, and when it was so cold the last thing I wanted was to be sat in the middle of the boat (come on, wind!). The Bough Beech Icicle Series got off to a telling start, when we had to de-ice the boat.

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Yes, that’s a slab of ice frozen solid.

We sailed when it was wet, and we had to drape our little flat with undercover, sails, ropes, and smelly kit. I can tell you now, we are so on board with our next flat having a garage… The poor cats are traumatised by all the oversized, rustling objects that we’ve brought into the flat over the winter season.

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The important thing though is that we’ve been sailing. And finally, finally, we’ve had some wind! More on this later, but the Burghfield event last weekend was without a shadow of a doubt, awesome. I think it even tops sailing in Salcombe. We had so much fun. Since Burghfield as well, we’ve had some great sailing at Bough Beech. The past two weekends have been fantastic, and our final few results are great. A third, a second, and a first. Result!

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So. The winter round-up? We’ve been becalmed, and now we’re raring to get back to the blustery times.

Look out for the next post, when I’ll be handing over to my helm! George is planning on writing up our day at Burghfield, so keep your eyes peeled.

Until then, happy sailing!

Alice

Credit for the three photos of us sailing to Martyn Smith!

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