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Autumn Update from the Dozy Crew

It is now 6 months since we purchased our Xenon and it has been a period of very enjoyable 'ups and downs'. We have experienced some superb sailing days during what has been a lovely summer with plenty of sunshine and some very good wind. Our efforts at club racing have been innevitably somewhat mixed but we are gradually improving as a team and have been very pleased with our choice of boat. Mr T, my trusty helm has now perfected the art of a nifty move onto the centre board when we capsize which means that our capsizes are no longer a drama and do not lose us too much time. On the rare occasion that we experience a full inversion, we have now developed a technique which seems to work for us (and keeps the helm dry). Rather than both remaining in the water and heaving on the righting lines with all out might, the helm gets on top of the Xenon and leans on the centre board whilst I stay in the water with both feet on the side of the upturned hull and put all of my weight on the righting lines.This seems to bring the boat up much quicker although it is still important to get the balance just right and make sure both sheets are uncleated to avoid the Xenon going straight over again.  I am gradually getting the hang of handling that tricky spinnaker, although in gusty conditions or winds of anything more than a force 4 or 5, I still struggle to control it and we often end up capsizing with all 3 sails flying. As someone once said to me 'It's meant to be fun' so whilst I am gradually moving the goalposts as far as sailing in challenging conditions are concerned, it's a case of knowing my limitations and accepting that sometimes it's best to call it a day or not launch at all. I have also been fortunate enough to sail with a couple of 'alternative helms', who are both experienced and extremely competent Xenon sailors when Mr T has been otherwise engaged. These have been extrememly valuable and enjoyable experiences, there is much to learn from sailing with a different helms. The first of these was during a competition at our club on an extremely windy day, which turned into a 'demolition derby' with upturned hulls and sailors in the water at frequent intervals. It was too much for my capabilities but my helm was very gracious and I did indeed benefit from the experience, despite having to retire half way through the 2nd race. My second 'alternative' sail was in far better conditions and restored my confidence in my crewing abilities. On this occasion, we were even the first Xenon accross the line in both races, which brought out my previously dormant competitive spirit. All in all, a very enjoyable summer, with grateful thanks going to my 2 good friends who generously allowed me to sail with them. Thanks, as ever, also go to the ever patient Mr T, who tolerates my mistakes and colourful language as I continue to learn how to crew in a 'big boy's boat'. I hope to improve by experience over the winter and if the current spell of stormy weather eventually calms down , I might even have a go at helming again. Watch this space .

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