KSSA Promoting Youth Sailing in Kent
KSSA event



Summer in Canada.

I flew out on the 3rd of July with my mum and brother Graham and landed at Halifax airport that afternoon after going via St Johns (a small airport in Canada). Once we’d found our luggage which included 2 sails and a set of Byte foils and worked out how to drive the automatic hire car we were on our way to Bedford. It was extremely hot and we had to adapt quickly to these high temperatures. Our accommodation for the next few days was in a Motel that backed onto Bedford Basin. The rooms were basic but all that we needed. We decided to try and find the Yacht club while we had plenty of time instead of doing it the next morning when we were in a rush. The directions we had been given led us straight to the yacht club where we saw many boats being unloaded ready for training the next day. We asked around but there was no sign of the man (Craig Guthrie) who was bringing a boat for me to sail. However, during this time, Graham managed to get himself a ride out on one of the local yachts in the Wednesday evening race – we hadn’t even been in the country for a day!

Our first night at the motel had been very hot and we all found ourselves waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning due to the time difference from England. Breakfast that morning was in McDonalds as we had not really found out what else was available and when we arrived at the club, it was already busy with more people unloading boats. It wasn’t long before we found Craig and the Byte that was going to be my battleship for the next few days. There were around 30 other Bytes at the training and many other boats including 29ers, Laser 2s,Lasers, Optimists and 420s. The standard of the sailors was mixed and the top Byte sailors all came from the Chester YC team. Most of these sailors decided to have Thursday off so I found that I was easily the fastest on the water during simple exercises including a slightly different version of a rabbit run called the Death Rabbit!

Friday brought slightly lighter wind for the morning session and we stayed really close to the club. In the afternoon the coaches set up a mini regatta so that everybody knew what to expect the next day when the Regatta started. The wind had picked up for these races and in the second race there was a nice 15knts blowing. This put off some of the smaller sailors and for race three many of the Bytes and Lasers were being sailed by the coaches. This didn’t put me off and I was still able to win the race making it straight wins for the afternoon beating most of the Lasers on the water. I was very impressed with one of the Lasers that was on the water because it had a rainbow across the deck and also across the sail. I was tempted to buy it and use it at a squad training! I had been invited to a BBQ at one of the Chester team member’s houses as part of the Chester team dinner. This gave me the chance to get to know everybody that I was going to be sailing with.

We got down to the club on Saturday morning in plenty of time to register and rig my boat as well as socialise. There was a steady breeze of 10 knots and the sail to the race area took half an hour. Once the courses were laid the starting sequences began but this still meant that I had 30 minutes until my start, because all the classes were sailing on the same trapezoid course. Shifty conditions meant that even though I had a good start at the favoured port end, the sailors from the committee boat got a big lift and were ahead. Myself and most of the Chester team were stuck on the left had side of the course only managing to get a chance to go back into the middle of the course at the windward mark. I rounded the mark in fourth and by the end of the first run I had worked my way into first. These two legs were typical of the whole weekend. For the second race the wind had built to 20 knots leaving some of the smaller sailors struggling. Luckily I was able to pull off a port hand flyer, leaving the rest of the fleet 50m behind. I held the lead throughout the race. When I came ashore I was met by my dad who had flown out earlier that day.

For the Sunday both Graham and Dad got a ride out on the committee boat and where able to watch the races that day. The courses were slightly shorter so that we could get three races in before 2 o’ clock. The wind was still as shifty but not as strong and I managed to win all three races but with some challenges along the way, from the local sailors. At the prize giving I became the proud winner of the Byte Belt (which is very similar to the belts boxers win) for the North East Coast Byte championship and joint champion of the regatta.

Monday morning we moved out of the motel to a friend’s house where we played badminton and made use of the private dock in their back garden complete with yacht and kayaks.

Tuesday: I started training with the Chester team at St. Margaret’s Bay. This location had a reputation for being very windy and wavy. This was fulfilled when I got out of the protected inlet into the bay to be met by a large swell. After spending a day in these tough conditions I was disappointed when I saw the bed at our new accommodation- a futon wasn’t what I had in mind!

Light winds on Wednesday meant that it was a drift out into the bay, but I was glad of the long sail when I saw a whale nearby. During the day I also saw seals and porpoises, which was easily the highlight of the day.

On Thursday, one of the girls, Victoria had her birthday that meant that she and the rest of the team got pushed in off the dock. I was very scared of the live jellyfishes. As it was a special occasion Chris our coach said that we would go on a trip around an island commonly known as “Arsecrack” island. This trip took the whole day even though it was 18 knot winds. Reaching there was exciting, going round was scary due to the wind being funnelled throughout the crack, and beating back was painful. We were all looking forward to the team dinner at Anthony’s house who happened to be a very good Italian cook.

The next day was a lay day before the St. Margaret’s bay regatta. The Blairs took advantage of the hot weather and went to the beach, we couldn’t bring ourselves to move far from water. I was very bored and wanted to go sailing.

The day of the regatta arrived (Saturday) and brought with it as expected strong breezes and big swell, these got the better of me in the first race which gave me a third. As the wind built my increased stamina helped me to keep working throughout the long race. The finish was close but I was slightly ahead for the bullet.

I slept soundly all night ready for the three races on the Sunday. The conditions were slightly lighter but the swell was still evident. The bigger sailors were more of a challenge to me at this location with the races being tight, however I still managed to end the day with three bullets. During some of the races I became briefly distracted by the other members of team GBR who had flown out the day before. At the prize giving that evening I had to say goodbye to all the new friends I had made during the two weeks I had already been in Canada. I was taken away from that event by Mark Barron our GBR team manager and would not see my parents for the next week. It was nice to be taken to Oak Island Inn too meet the rest of the team and to settle in for the next two weeks.

The week before the regatta was spent resting at the hotel, making good use of their pool and gym facilities. There was also tennis courts and crazy golf, which was where you were most likely to find the boys from our team. On one of the days, we drove into Chester where we hired some kayaks for the day. Unfortunately, I paired up with the laziest boy on our team so I found myself doing most of the work while he just sat there splashing the other people! By the end of the day I was soaked through and glad to get back to the hotel.

On Thursday morning we had to be up early to register for the event at the hotel. This included handing over the water that you had brought from the UK for the mixing of the water ceremony and also receiving some free clothing and Frisbee. Transport was provided in the style of bright yellow school busses with a large amount of flashing lights, however, we had hired our own transport for the week meaning that we could get down to the sailing club earlier. It was about a 20minute drive from the hotel and once we had arrived we found our boats that were issued to us. The boats were already rigged so I was able to go out sailing very quickly but on the 29ers, there were many things that our team had to check so they were rigging most of the morning. It was against the rules to cut any rope that was supplied or to use any of your own equipment, so there was not much I could change. The sail about that I had was more of a drift in about 5knts of wind but it was good to check that everything was working.

The practice race was on Friday and this gave you a chance to see what the other sailors were like. The race was started with a very light SW wind which did pick up slightly during the race. With usual tradition of a practice race, most people did not finish and I sailed in with the rest of the leading group after completing the inner loop of the trapezium course. Many of the girls already knew each other from training together before and also from the Europe circuit. I quickly made friends with the New Zealand and Australian girls who like me, did not really know anybody else. In the evening was the opening ceremony and it was a chance to wear the team shirts that we had been supplied with. We also had a ride in one of the school busses to get down to Lunenburg waterfront where the procession took place. The town had a large group of sea cadets who led out the countries and we had to sit next to the pride of the town which was a ship called the Bluenose II while many speeches were said. The mixing of the water was done over the side of the Bluenose. After the water had been mixed, we were driven from the cold waterfront to Lunenburgh YC where there was a buffet meal for the athletes. Returning to the hotel, we were able to relax in the pool meeting other athletes before going to bed.

Waking up and looking out the window on the first day of proper racing brought the sight of cloud. Once we were down at the club there was a breeze of roughly 10-12 knots. There was also a large swell going across the racecourse. It was very notable on the way out to the racecourse that there was a lot of weed. I was quite nervous before the start of the first race especially when it was postponed. However once we had started racing I felt fine. I finished the first race in second place behind the girl from the USA. This mostly came from being able to work the waves both up and downwind. The wind dropped between the races and the start of the second race was messy and at the windward mark five boats were pulled out for being OCS, most of them being the favourites for the event. I finished that race eight and then realised that there was a large lump of weed on the rudder. However, I was placed in third at the end of the first day. That evening the team GBR we were able to watch a film at the hotel through a laptop and projector system. This impressed many other athletes as they saw the video on the way to the pool.

The next day we had three races in light southeasterly winds. My results in these races were 9, 7 and 7. The wind was fairly shifty and uneven, the leader of the race would usually be the person who went furthest to an edge and who took the biggest risk – I did not like or feel comfortable with making such risks. Typically, the best wind of the day was on the sail in where the wind had picked up to about 15 knots.

On Monday, we had our layday in accordance with the world youth day. There had been boat trips organised on the Bluenose but Team GBR decided to relax at the hotel instead. That evening we went to Lunenburgh where there was a sunset ceremony and a live rock band on the waterfront.

After being fully rested, we were all ready for the two races that were scheduled for Tuesday. Once on the water, the wind was filling in from the sea breeze direction. The first race was in fairly light conditions but the wind was building all the time. By the end of the day, the wind had built to a steady force 3 – 4. My results for today were two 9ths. In the evening all the athletes had a debrief from Jim Saltanstall who had been out on the water during the day, this happened every evening.

Wednesday brought light breezes and no races were sailed until half past five when a minor sea breeze had kicked in. After spending the whole day on the water it was very difficult to get into racing mode. After being on the wrong side of the first beat, I decided to go the opposite way on the second upwind leg. However, because of the fluky winds, that time it paid to go the other way! It was a very difficult race and was glad to finally get off the water at 7pm. There was a lot of excitement that evening at the hotel when everybody had to be evacuated for a fire in the boiler room. At first nobody thought that there was a real fire until the local fire trucks arrived and started putting out the fire. Luckily, not much was damaged and everybody could go back to what they were doing within an hour.

Three races had to be sailed the next day in order to stay on schedule but the winds were similar to the day before. The morning breeze would be quite strong from a NE direction but would soon fade out until another breeze came in from the SE. The committee was hoping to have one race in the morning breeze but the wind shifted 90º just after a recall for the laser start. This meant a delay of about an hour and because we needed the races, the course was quickly re-laid. However this meant that it was going to be another long day of sailing in the light winds. The day got better after having a disastrous 18th then a 15th and in the last race and 8th. Looking at the results that evening, I was in 11th place with 10th place being 10 points away and 12th about 25 points behind. This meant that unless something shocking happened, I would easily finish in 11th without sailing the last race.

The final day, Friday came and again, light winds. We did not launch until 12:45 and the race had to be started by 2pm. The course was set close to the club in amongst the islands so that we could get there in time. It was going to be close to the time limit but the race officer just managed to get us away exactly on 2 o’clock. The racing was short and only windward, leeward but I managed a 15th position in the shifty conditions. After crossing the finish line I found my boat being attacked by the Canadian, USA and Australian girls and then I was in the water! Everybody was in high spirits and the prize giving was really well organised. The 29er girls had won gold so I was really nice to see them on the podium. The evening passed spending time with the new friends that we had made during the week. The next morning, most people had already left.

I really enjoyed the time that I spent in Canada. The racing was very close and harder because everybody you were racing against had maximum boatspeed. Any mistake that you made lost you a lot of places. The people I met were so friendly and I am sure that I will keep in touch with them all, I will probably race against many of them in the future. I hope to do the ISAFs again next year in Portugal and that year the racing will be in the Laser Radial so I will be more confident with what I do. I just want to thank my parents and everyone who helped me over the past few years.