Disaster on the water

Saturday morning dawned and I was raring to go.

I'd taken part in a Dorset Echo photocall the previous day and meeting and being pictured with some of the Olympians and Paralympians sent me heading down to the academy with extra enthusiasm.

For the morning session, the tide was high which is good for the launch and recovery of the dinghies. There was a bit of a breeze which was ideal for the OnBoarders but it was bitterly cold, especially on the water.

Refuelling the Jaffa’s was the order of the day so I set about driving the Viking over to the fuel barge to fill it for the day. When the OnBoarders arrived we sorted them out with wetsuits and got changed ourselves. As soon as everyone was ready we headed to the slipway and started up the Jaffa, which didn’t want to run this morning and kept cutting out.

So I repeatedly tried to start it again, however, I may have pulled the handle a bit too hard as the rope snapped and I was left with the handle in my hand! I was a little concerned by this to say the least but, with all the young sailors waiting to get started, I had no choice but to start the other Jaffa – carefully! Because we had changed boats, we had to warm up the engine so we went for a bit of a burn before heading back to pick up Jack, the instructor for the morning. However, it was during this warm up that, incredibly, disaster struck again!

We did a high speed turn and the engine on the back of the Jaffa suddenly turned 90 degrees which then made it horizontal to the water, it had come loose from its block! We cut the engine and gingerly lifted it out of the water.

It had been secured with bolts which had come loose, presumably the high speed turn had been the final straw, so we hand tightened these and proceeded back to shore. Once ashore, we tightened the bolts securely with a wrench-like tool, double checking that nothing further was likely to occur during our session.

We finally joined the picos in Portland Harbour for their morning session. During my lunch break I then set about fixing the handle on the other Jaffa which, thankfully, wasn’t too difficult either.

It was then a quick change into my hikers in preparation for Race Club. There were seven Laser 4.7’s this week which made for good racing. We tackled a massive course stretching from WPNSA to the harbour wall then to Castle Cove and back to the slipway.

I held second place right up until the gybe mark at Castle Cove where we had to do a roll gybe. I wasn’t aggressive enough in my manoeuvre as I didn’t want to risk capsizing but, unfortunately, this cost me my place in the race and I moved down to 3rd. I then held this place for the rest of the race – which given the light wind conditions, I wasn’t too unhappy with.

Back on shore we derigged and went to get changed, at which point I discovered that I had forgotten my towel (again!) so I had to travel home in my gear, wet and cold but happy in the knowledge that I had coped with the problems throughout the day!

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PORTLAND schoolboy Adam Greaves got a taste of life on the water with The Chesil Trust charity's Sail for £5 scheme and caught the sailing bug. The Royal Manor pupil has progressed through his dinghy sailing qualifications thanks to scholarship funding from the charity and SailLaser sailing school at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and has now achieved assistant instructor level. Adam, aged 14, has already amassed more than 160 hours volunteer time at the academy. Here we follow his progress as he sets his sights on volunteering and taking part in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events on his home waters.

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