Last Sunday we had Andrew Walsh from the Extreme 40 sailing series come to Bewl to coach us on Catamaran sailing technique. The forecast was promising torrential rain and huge gusts but eight hardy sailors turned out none the less.
With white horses visible on the water outside we were coached through boat handling and trapezing technique with videos of Olympic class sailors on F18′s. Great stuff but I’m wondering if this guy has seen our boats or looked around the room! Not to worry I think he’s found our level now and now we are off to check everyone’s boats over and make some rigging tweaks for the high winds, I think this is sometimes called “Catamaran Weather”!
Andrew decided to double up everyone, so each boat had one more experienced sailor on board. I was ready first so set off towards the nature reserve with a brand new jib, forestay and spreader, never sailed before! My girlfriend Emma crewing for the first time in this configuration and in this weather, I’m still seriously impressed she was game to go in what was by now F5 gusting almost F7. We had a lumpy time working out how it all worked but with some adjustments from Andrew and some time getting our communication sorted we were off. Plenty of near capsizes including this one, yet we stayed upright!
Soon Phil Barber & Chris Mewies joined us in Felix and things settled down a little.
With a new traveller fitted Nick Sermon then came to join us in his Hobie 16 with his crew Hannah O’Meara.
Unfortunately Hannah had to retire for the afternoon after hurting her ankle during a capsize. Andrew spent some time sailing with Nick and suggested some adjustments to make preventing a capsize easier.
Phil was the only one who stayed upright.
The morning conditions were extremely taxing, looking back now at the weather station history I think this was the highest winds I’ve ever sailed in, gusts of 35mph! Andrew spent some time with us over lunch going through our videos and explaining the good, the bad and the ugly, sometimes painfully frame by frame! Still it’s all good educational stuff, certainly Emma and myself were sailing much more smoothly and consistently by now.
After an exhausting, bruising and I suspect petrifying for a relative newcomer to sailing, morning session Emma sensibly retired to the coach’s rib for the afternoon along with Hannah. Paul joined Nick on the Hobie 16 and Phil & Chris soldiered on in the now torrential rain it’s not often it rains enough to be visible on video but this time it did.
After messing up taking down my new jib, forgot to tie on the the halyard extension, oops that turned the air blue for a few moments, I decided to run without a jib for the afternoon. I was at least able to try out my new spinnaker and get some tips from Andrew, it’s all to do with strategic velcro placement apparently, should stop me wrapping the sheets around the bows when dropping the spinnaker single handed.
Once the rain stopped the conditions were great.
Just to ensure we had all possible weather conditions during the day, the wind dropped off to nothing as we were heading in, requiring Andrew to tow us back to the clubhouse for the debrief.
I certainly had a great day and learned a great deal too, mostly that my idea of pull tight or pull hard is a long long way short of Andrew’s, certainly on a day like last Sunday! I was very impressed with the determination and persistence of everyone attending on such a challenging day, most especially the less experienced sailors Emma & Chris.
Many thanks to Andrew Walsh for passing on a tiny part of his expertise and managing to think down from Extreme 40′s to a Topaz 14 Extreme, the name and number of hulls is about the only similarity, a Newcat 14, Hobie 16 & Dart 15.
(unofficial) multihull fleet captain.
More about Andrew
Many thanks to Dave Radford and the training guys for organising this and to Paul for being RIB driver for most of the day.