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Cold Knap, Barry Island, 16th March 2003

A forecast wind of around 15mph and full sunshine with mild, even warm temperatures was sufficient to prise me away from the task of decorating my kitchen/diner, and head off to Cold Knap for the first event of the new season.

Upon arrival (not getting lost this time), I was greeted by Gerry and Chris. They had already been down to the water’s edge to check out the wind. It seemed to be blowing cross/offshore, i.e. around easterly. There no waves or swell, which at least made the prospect of launching significantly better than the last time we were there (when I spent an hour trying to get out through the shore-break only to then break the mast!).


Two prospective new members, Roger and Gail from Swindon introduced themselves; they currently sail quite often at Portland. They had an anemometer so we checked the wind strength near the water and it was averaging 10 to 12mph, so it really had to be big sails required. Roger and Gail only had relatively small kit so decided to wait a while.

Chris, Gerry and myself rigged up, although I must say not with any great enthusiasm. I realised that I had not used the big kit since last spring and that I had robbed the boom of its uphaul and harness lines so had to refit those, stabbing my thumb with a marlin spike in the process of trying to undo a knot! I then somehow managed to put my wetsuit on back to front in my haste! (it’s a zip-less one). It looked like it was going to be one of those days...

Anyway three intrepid Nomads struggled down the shingle with their kit: Chris with her Bee/6.5m, Gerry with his Phoenix/8.5m and me with my antique Bic ‘barge’/7.9m. Once clear of the wind shadow near the beach, the wind picked up and I was soon in the straps and away at high speed, yeeehaaagh! By the time I looked round I was quite a long way from the shore so thought I’d better turn around. It would have been nice just to keep going!

After some time, I noticed a large silver/grey van had appeared in the car park and assumed it was (unmistakably!) Ian and Neroli’s. I went ashore for a drink and saw that they had already rigged and were just about to launch. It was good to see Neroli back on the water again and the conditions were probably ideal for her at this stage, i.e. only small chop. Martin also turned up around this time but didn’t seem too impressed with the conditions, so he went off to Porthcawl in hope of better [and believes he found it! - MF].

Later on the wind seemed to be picking up so I made the decision to come ashore to change to a smaller board and rig. Amazingly this often seems to cause the wind to drop again and sure enough it did drop slightly. (The wind would have stayed up if I’d stayed on the original kit!). However it was still good enough to get the JP 105 +7.0m onto the plane, after a bit of coaxing! My thoughts and experience on changing down are that more often than not, it does pay off and is certainly better than hanging on to excessively large kit.

After a while the wind eased a bit more and seemed to go slightly more offshore so I stopped for the day, but Ian and Neroli had a few more runs out in ’formation’ before giving up. We had a late lunch (and ice cream for Ian & Neroli!) whilst basking in the sunshine and reflected on an excellent sail. The only disappointment was the poor turnout considering the enjoyable conditions. Where were you all? You missed a good one!

Al Donald

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