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Cadet Sailing Matters 18th June 2024

Father’s Day weekend was a rather surprising success for the Cadets, as we weren’t cowed by the fierce weather forecasts, and found pockets of glorious weather to sail and play in, between the downpours.

Starting on the Pond on Saturday, we had 19 eager sailors (well, little Beatrice was less eager, as Penny made her cry almost immediately...) After hiding from a brief rain-shower, we launched the 6 oppies and kids piled into the boats. Everyone helped to rig, with Herbert knowing all the boat parts, and where they go! Our plan of separating our new sailors from those more experienced didn’t quite work out, so everyone sailed together, some with parents onboard where requested (including 6’4” Freddie Lower! His oppie was VERY low in the bow!) Concerned about the strong gusts, we started without the sprits, but soon worked out that oppies are impossible to sail without them, as our kayaking adults were prising a gaggle of oppies off the lee shore. After adding some sprits, we saw some nice moves from Herbert and Barnaby, with huge smiles from our brand-new sailors Tobias, Sebastian, Reuben and Russell, as well as old hands Lucia and Flora. An ominous black cloud scared us off the water with some thunder, but Barnaby, Charlie and Tobias managed to practice some hot-shot tacking moves in the simulator, before the heavens opened and sent us all running!

Sunday started grey, cold and blowing old boots (the RB adults sensibly cancelled their sailing) but the Cadets moved to the dinghy park for some theory. Bearing in mind the Sunday morning sailors were aged 2, 4, 5, 6 (with Vincent Lower leading the charge, and showing the little ones what to do), our theory involved games and running around in a nautical fashion. Vincent (with the advantage of longer arms) won our mainsheet-pulling challenge easily, but Astrid and Ludo gave it a good go, with a very determined Ludo trying hard to master Hooky Thumb. Charlie Pollock also excelled himself by pulling with Big Arms and using Hooky Thumb! We looked at the 3 points of sail, consolidating the concept by running straight, diagonally or zig-zagging, with arms in the positions of our sails. Astrid did brilliantly at remembering to say “tiller away from me, tacking!” on each zig and zag! Alex drew us an excellent chalk boat, so we played Captain Says onboard, and learned our boat parts. After jumping over some ropes,
Penny tried to orchestrate a sailing start line, which Astrid and Vincent grasped beautifully, unlike Charlie and a particularly disruptive Benji.

The Club provided a fabulous Sunday lunch, with at least 44 diners, most of whom ate all their broccoli (necessary for strong sailors). Our Rescue Boat team, Jack and Clifton Warry, had kindly started rigging the Mirrors, soon helped by Andy Dodd and Julian, so we were on the water by 2.30pm. Despite our misgivings about the gusts, it turned into a beautiful afternoon, with a warm sun and a decent breeze. Worried that the Rescue team might be getting bored, Julian and his son Sebastian took a gybe a little enthusiastically, and not only capsized, but turtled their Mirror! That’s some Father’s Day bonding! Of course the Rescue boat had them sorted out in moments, and Sebastian gave us a big smile, confirmed he wasn’t scared at all, as he’d practised capsizing in the Cadet Regatta. Benji and Charlie finally made Alex happy, by showing him some nice helming on the River.

As always, running the Cadets is a team effort, so huge thanks to Freddie Lower, Jen Cole, Doddsy, Julian, Amy Robinson, Jema Smith, Magdalen, Joff, Jack and Clifton, and of course Alex Pollock and Sue Hooper, without whom none of this could have happened.

Following an impressively brief Committee meeting, we have some exciting plans for the Cadet Regatta 15 - 18 August, so would ask ALL SAILORS who’d like to help out, to clear their diaries and get ready for some rip-roaring fun with our Cadets!

Penny Hooper