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A Red Christmas

As the festive season approached, I was faced with the usual problem of what to buy Mr T for Christmas. He is by no means fussy and is perfectly content with the usual wine, books, jumpers etc but this year I wanted to do better. The Autumn has presented us with some challenging sailing conditions and as a result we are slowly getting the hang of the use of the spinnaker and have also perfected our capsize recover routine, which now takes considerably less time than it did previously. During one of our more lively runs, I looked up at our spinnaker and noticed a series of small holes and pieces of tape as I battled to keep it under control. 'Eureka' - I decided that a new spinnaker would be the perfect present and having recently admired the red ones used for this year's Endeavour trophy, I set my sights on one of those. The spinnaker was delivered to my work address in order to keep the secret and I couldn't resist the temptation to unpack it and spread it out and check it. As a result, my colleagues were trapped at their desks and no-one could get in or out of our rather small office. It made me realise how big the Xenon spinnaker is, no wonder the boat shifts so fast when flying the kite efficiently.

The big day arrived and Mr T was both surprised and delighted with his present and we decided that the usual Boxing Day race at our club would be the ideal time to test it. The weather on Boxing Day turned out to be glorious with full sunshine and a gentle and consistent Force 2-3. We launched the spinnaker, which filled perfectly and I like to think that we were the smartest boat on the reservoir. We noted that the new spinnaker was stiffer and thicker than our old, rather worn one and this did make it a bit harder to get back into the chute. At one point it seemed to jam and I was very reluctant to force it as I was concerned that I might damage it. However, all that was needed was 'a bit more welly' and some confidence as subsequent drops were fine. Mr T has recommended more time at the gym in order to develop my biceps.

We had a wonderful sail with no capsizes and the morning was an excellent antidote to the innactivity and over indulgencies of Christmas Day. As for the results? Well we may have only managed 14th place out of 22 boats but at least we did it in style. .

Happy New Year to all and here's to plenty of good sailing weather in 2014.