It's amazing how time flies when you are busy. For me, it was a year as Seniors Captain at Blackmoor Golf Club and lots of sailing to build my skills for 2023. This will be my 3rd consecutive years sailboat racing since 1994 which coincidently was the year I got married.
This year started with a charity race at Hampton Court and I soon learnt my position in the hierarchy and was offered some sailing tips which helped me as the year progressed. Then after a few more events it was onto the Nationals at Castle Semple which is a fantastic venue although very cold and wet on the first day. I had it in my head that it was easy to get out of B fleet, but could I stay in A fleet, not a chance. I would always do something stupid to make sure I was demoted. Subject of a recent blog. I did reasonably well at the ranking events and felt my skills improved despite a disappointing outing at Manor park. The goal was to get inside the top 10.
My red boat for the first half of the year had a few scratches in the hull which were mostly polished out but there were two notches taken out of the fin trailing edge. So when Brad mentioned he was selling Victoria's yellow boat after the Nationals, I jumped at the chance. Not only was the boat in perfect condition, it enabled me to complete my full understanding of the setup of the IOM rig. My old red boat was sold before I got home from Glasgow.
Back down South I was doing well but coming up short against the likes of Peter Stollery, Darin Ballington (when he made the trip south), Tony Edwards, David Allinson, Craig Smith and Colin Goodman (Chelmsford) who knows a thing or two about dinghy racing as well as building beautiful rigs. However I could see improvement as the year went on.
The icing on the cake for my year was the final event of the Met and Southern District championship at Chipstead. The boat setup was so good that upwind, I was pointing higher and the same speed or faster than anyone. This made the first beat much easier to manage being able to get into a position where I could tack at will. That combined with my brain being totally in phase with the wind shifts, led to a near perfect set of results. Now I know I have the speed, I just have to get off the start cleanly line in a big fleet.
So what of 2023. It would be nice to get in the top 5 of the ranking list and top 10 in the nationals. Having sorted the mindset and boat, I think I have a good chance. We shall see.
There is no need for any IOM development. However the same cannot be said for the Marblehead I purchased to get experience of faster sailboats. I bought a package that will give me some extra challenges this year. The boat is a fraction on the heavy side overweight but I believe it will be a good performer at least to get me in the middle of the fleet. Once I have got some time on the water I can assess whether it is worth investing in this boat for finding a faster steed.
There have been so many people who have helped me on my journey with useful feedback on boat building, designs, sail setting and racing skills. Often advice has just been offered without asking and for that I am grateful to all. You know who you are and that's what make radio yacht racing such wonderful sport.
There are many levels to participate in this sport (club, open, ranking, National, International) and it does not require a large check book to compete at club or open level whether it be a home build or older design. Our grass roots as in any sport lies in healthy club activity and as I tour the UK I am delighted to see many of our fleets are in good health. Obviously to compete at higher levels you need the right steed but happily there are a number of choices available today. Kantun, Britpop, Venti, V11 to name the main protagonists at the world. See the blog on Worlds statistics. Whilst it may take 6-18 months to acquire one, they are available and worth every penny and rarely suffer from serious depreciation over time.
Finally to give back to the sport, I have put my name forward to help fill out one of the gaps in the MYA structure. The health of our great sport lies in the few volunteers who put their names in the hat and it was disappointing to see so little support at the recent AGM. We should be focussed on having fun and leaving politics to the politicians in our world and get on with building successful structures to promote sailing.
I hope you achieved all your goals and projects this year and are looking forward to a successful 2023. With any luck we may meet on the circuit and share some stories over a bevvy or two. Until then keep safe.
“It’s a myth that you can’t have it all. You can have it all—just maybe not all at the same time.” —Eva Longoria, actor