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Training Day - Croft Farm Sun, 3/7/05

Feeling guilty about not having made a Nomads away day since March, and that was the only away day I managed this year, I felt I ought to put in the effort. Especially as there were bound to be a number of people who would want some help & assistance, hints & tips, surely?

Anyway, despite the dire prognostications of practically zero wind, I sallied forth northwards & inland - a most unusual direction. The rather cryptic map showing directions on the Croft Farm website failed to lead me along the chosen route - which seem to zigzag over half of Gloucestershire. Eventually, I caught up with another car hanging underneath a board, on the road out of Tewkesbury, so assumed I must be going the right way. Doubt then crept in, when said car turned off into a marina.

Notwithstanding, I carried on a mile or two further, where Croft Farm inevitably was, nestling in the baking hot countryside. Former marina-bound car pulled-in behind, containing none other than lunchtimeAngela.

It being lunchtime'ish, and the rest of the crowd having already been there all morning, they were taking a well earned break from the rigours of the morning's extreme conditions. At least, I always find pumping like fury in a vain attempt to get planing in a force 1 pretty extreme.

Without further ado, I decided to rig up the biggest stuff I had - fat-arsed AHD 77 with 9.4m sail - to some derision from others it has to be said. Whilst rigging, I discovered my very expensive Fiberspar carbon boom had acheived a greater degree of entropy than desirable - the front end was all split. Last time I'd used that boom had been in Bigbury, last summer. I seem to remember hearing a sort of creaking noise then, but put it down to the boom slipping down the mast. Anyhow, Brian Derrick kindly saved the day with the loan of a very suitable alternative.

MF So, suitably kitted up, I struggled my monstrous kit onto the water, jumped on and sped off into the distance, carried by the pleasant force 4 which had since sprung up. Carving a graceful gybe a mile out, I headed back to the beach.

In yer dreams! After getting the skeg off the bottom, frantic pumping failed to acheived the desired objective, so I resorted to pleasantly drifing around for a while whilst expending strength holding the rig upright.

Others appeared also to be drifting aimlessly around, with Sam - the only sailor there actually actively seeking some instruction - seeming to benefit from the conditions.

Ian Long (I think) then came up with the bright idea of sailing without skegs. Always being up for a challenge, I decided I'd do this on my 110 litre board (with a 6m sail). So for a while, we all skated around the pond in a generally downwind direction, with the front & rear of the board alternatelyAngela relaxes taking it in turns to lead. Actually an interesting exercise that teaches you how to balance weight very precisely between your legs, and how to bank the board to keep to windward.. And yes - it IS possible on a 110l board in almost no wind.

Angela - I noticed - had gone for the slightly less energetic option of sunbathing.Brian duck-gybes

At some point in the day, the occasional gust came through allowing the monster to get onto the plane & thus frighten the swans & children. For the rest though, it was mainly heli-tacks and other freestyley-like things that I'm not very good at. Though Ian seem eminently competent in this area.

 

Attendees were - Ian & Neroli, Steve & Viv, Sam Willcox, Al Donald, Brian Derrick, Chris & Gerry Sanders, Keith Shepherd, Angela & James, & yours truly - not bad considering the poor wind forecast. Though I'd have expected other people to have made use of the training day?

Martin Farrimond

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