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A distinct loss of composure

Sunday 28th July

A beautiful sunny Sunday with the wind forecast to be a pleasant F3-4 so I was looking forward to an enjoyable morning club racing. As we were rigging up we all noticed that it was somewhat windier than predicted, with the club weather station showing a F4-5 with some rather hefty gusts before we had even launched. Great fun for the boys and experienced sailors but a severe attack of the 'heebie jeebies' was beginning to spread through this particular Xenon crew.

We launched (rapidly) and soon discovered somewhat lively conditions and witnessed a fellow Xenon team capsize on the way to the start line. Our start was far from professional but we stayed within the middle of the pack up to the first mark despite being on the receiving end of some large gusts, causing us to heel and then fall into the centre of the boat alternately which made the approaching spinnaker launch seem less than appealing. Having rounded the mark and hoisted the spinnaker I did my best to hold it steady but very soon afterwards we were knocked over by a large gust. The water was pleasantly warm and having mastereed our capsize recovery, we were soon upright and on our way again. However I really struggled to keep control of the spinnaker as it was tending to snatch and did it's best to pull me out of the boat. I was very glad once we rounded the next mark and the spinnaker was safely back inside again and although we witnessed many capsizes, we just about managed to stay upright.

The 2nd lap called for another hoist of course and this time the spinnaker was twisted and cosequently would not fill. I decided to go for a drop and re-launch but on the way down it suddenly un-twisted, filled and with what felt like a vertical take off sent us off accross the reservoir. For a few moments the Xenon was shooting along and we were really enjoying the ride. However,the strength of the wind and the gusts soon began to overwhelm me and my shouts and wails could be heard half way accross the reservoir, causing some amusement to a nearby boat. Following the drop, we discovered that the spinnaker sheets were caught underneath the boat and having completed the first race Mr T informed me that we had better head for the shore at which point it felt like a good idea to call it a day.

Another morning of lessons learned and valuable experience but clearly I still have a lot to learn and on this occasion, coffee and croissants in the garden would have been less stressful.

We will keep trying and my theory is that the more experience I get, the more confident and proficient I will become - here's hopingsmiley