A Laser Sailor’s Proverb

So, I was sat out on my Laser in the bay this afternoon, the first time I have sailed in the past two months since I injured my ankle during my Level 1 training. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, and, with a southerly breeze coming off the land, the sea was flat. At 5 degrees Centigrade (41F) it was a bit on the chilly side, but I had all my winter sailing gear on so was feeling quite toasty.

Having just spent the past hour reaching back and forth across the bay in winds of 15 knots, gusting 23 knots, throwing in a few tacks and gybes as well as hiking out just for the fun of it, I was watching a group of the club’s cadets being put through their paces around the club marks. A few of them were being overpowered in their toppers and picos in the gusts, resulting in a few capsizes. ‘Well’, I was thinking, ‘at least I have kept my gear dry and so I won’t struggle to get it washed and dried before racing tomorrow’. As any sailor knows, it is quite unpleasant to put cold, wet gear on before you go out sailing, so it was a bonus that I wasn’t going to have to sort that out this evening.

Another Laser sailor came alongside me and we set off on a reach across the bay together. I got most of the way across when a gust hit and before I knew it I had death rolled the boat. If you don’t know what a death roll looks like in a Laser, it looks exactly like this:

Did I mention it was 5 degrees and this was the Irish sea? I managed to get thrown clear of the boat during the capsize, so was having to swim back to my boat as my other mistake was to not to keep hold of the main sheet. It was at this point I realised that whilst pride may come before a fall on land, in Laser sailing “Smugness comes before a swim”.

Sailing with Percy

Last week, I went sailing with Percy. No, not Iain Percy, who was otherwise occupied competing in the Star class for Team GB at Weymouth in the London 2012 Olympics (although I have spent a morning on a RIB with Iain Percy, but that is another story), but Percy… an inflatable hippopotamus.

It all started innocently enough with a try-a-sail for one of the local arts groups. I was asked to take a group out for a ‘bit of a jaunt’ in the bay; I realised this would not be a straightforward assignment when one of the guys came out with his buoyancy aid on… and an additional rubber ring shaped as a hippo.

Percy makes an appearanceWhat ensued turned out to be one of the best evenings I have ever had sailing. There were water fights, water bombs being thrown, races between the boats – all the things you expect to do with a bunch of ten year olds, not fully grown adults. Somehow, Percy ended up helming the boat…

Helming with Percy… and even took part in a capsize drill!

Capsizing with PercyI’m not overly sure it was an RYA approved capsize recovery technique, but Percy certainly ensured that the dagger board was slightly easier to reach. All that was left after righting the boat was to bring Percy ashore for a well earned drink; I’m sure Percy will be out for more sailing before too long.