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Axbridge July 19th, 2003

I believe that this was the first time the Nomads had held an event on Cheddar Reservoir (Axbridge to you and me) as guests of Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club. This despite it being very easy to reach for most of us, and what’s more there was even a decent level of water left for us to sail on. We arrived at the club at 10.30am and I (being a BCYC member) was able to let everyone in through the gate. Viv and Pierrette had already sneaked in, being let through by another member. You may be wondering what happened to Steve and Mike. Well they were off somewhere else blowing their trumpets! Actually a cornet and a saxophone respectively and it was a sort of ‘jam session’ and concert in Bristol I think. So Viv and Pierrette teamed up to sail for the day.

Soon after we arrived the wind started to fill in from the south at a pleasant force four, 12 to 14mph I would guess, and southerly which is onshore at the clubhouse. This soon had everyone hastily rigging, mostly large sails, although I went with a 7.0 (ever the optimist!). Unfortunately we then had a bit of an awkward situation regarding buoyancy aids. As with most sailing clubs it is a requirement to wear one, but some of us now don’t wear them due to some types of waist harness making it impossible. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem as I regularly see windsurfers on the lake not wearing a buoyancy aid. However one particular gentleman started gently (!) reminding us of the rule, but was eventually persuaded to relent. It’s at our own risk I suppose, but Clubs do have to be careful about their insurance cover. This is a matter we will have to be aware of when visiting inland venues in future.

Ian was first on the water, having carefully negotiated the slippery concrete slope, only to be almost immediately hailed back in by the same previously mentioned gentleman. The rescue boat hadn’t yet been launched so no-one was supposed to be on the water! Rules, don’t you just love ‘em! (They were late getting the boat on the water anyway).

We all launched a short while later, some of us opting to carry our kit to a better launch site along the reservoir bank. I went for the slippery slope option only to sail into a large patch of weed. I thought I’d be able to sail through it but the sudden stop sent me over the front. The sail got caught up in the weed making a waterstart impossible, so I clambered on (tricky in the weed) and went for the uphaul… no uphaul!! Since last year when I attended a Cribby course I have taken to attaching my uphaul by looping it around the mast above the boom clamp and passing it inside the boom. This has the advantage of keeping it tucked out of the way so that it doesn’t catch on the footstraps when waterstarting, and also you don’t catch your fingers on it when flipping the rig during a carve gybe or whatever. The disadvantages are that you have to remember to fit it in the first place, as I found out! Also it’s quite easy to leave it behind on the beach when leaving, which I very nearly did the other day! Anyway I managed to lever the rig out of the water by standing on the rail (another Cribby top tip) and then by pulling directly on the mast, not easy with a large clump of weed at the top. Obviously then had to return to shore, fit the uphaul and try again. This time I managed to get through the weed OK, meanwhile everyone else was blasting up and down, enjoying the nice breeze.

There were still small patches of weed around but I found that by heading upwind into the deeper water (local knowledge!) these could be avoided, although no-one else seemed to take the hint. A while later, stopping for lunch, as I was walking back I noticed a small gathering down the slope by the water’s edge. I wandered over to see Pierrette being helped out of the water and then she sat down clearly in some distress. Evidently she had tried to come ashore though a particularly dense patch of weed, had then fallen/jumped in to it and was then unable to extricate herself from it, and she had a bit of a panic attack. With my earlier encounter with the weed I could well appreciate the feeling of being trapped, not pleasant at all.

Over lunch we managed to persuade Pierrette that it would be a good idea for her to go afloat again to get her confidence back. I helped carry her kit to a better launch site and with a little extra downhaul to cope with the now slightly fresher breeze she seemed to be fine. Keith was tempted to take out his Fanatic Gecko so it must have been windy, although he kept the 7.5m rig so I’ll bet it was entertaining! Chris tried out her new board for the first time, a Starboard Freesex (97litre), which apparently is very good for lay-down gybes (!!) and it has deep grooves under the front to help with Vulcans and Spocks etc. So expect to see some radical freestyle from Chris at a Nomads event soon! Seriously though, she enjoyed sailing it very much and it will be excellent for progression into carve gybing.

I think everyone enjoyed the day out at the local pond, despite the problems, and we were lucky with the wind, which is always a bonus.

Attendees were: Ian & Neroli, Gerry & Chris, Viv, Pierrette, Keith, Phil, Pete, Simon, Al, plus Neil & Nancy (not sailing but showing off their new baby, congratulations to them).

Al Donald

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