As I headed down to the academy on Saturday, I wondered if I was asking just a bit too much. Today needed to be windy and tomorrow needed to be calm.

However, early indications were good. When I arrived, Jack and I went to refuel the Jaffa and then set about getting the picos out and putting up the masts in preparation for OnBoard Club.

The academy was a hive of activity with large groups of dinghys - toppers, laser 4.7’s, 29ers and more all off to claim their part of the harbour.

Once changed and out on the water we played follow my leader with me driving the Jaffa. There was a bit of a breeze and one of the picos capsized enabling me to perform my first ‘real’ capsize recovery.

This required accurate control of the Jaffa in order that we could help the young sailor and also right his boat.

Over lunchtime we needed to fill the buoy bags with weights in order that the race markers remained upright for the afternoon session.

It was then a quick change into hikers for race club. As the Laser 4.7’s were being used for a training day, Ben and I took out a Laser 2000.

This is a double hander and a lot different from the sailing that we are used too. We were racing the picos and because of the size and speed advantage, we had to give them a suitable head start at the beginning of the race. This was set at 30 seconds.

We came 1st in race 1, jubilant and maybe complacent about our victory, the start of race 2 couldn’t have been worse.

We duly counted down the 30 second head start for the picos and made ready for our start of the race. However, we experienced an untimely capsize on the start line due to lack of communication between the helm and the crew. We quickly righted ourselves and blasted across the start line on a starboard tack beating upwind to a windward mark.

But by this time, we were significantly behind and only managed a 3rd. However, we regained our position in race 3 to bag another 1st. After the races, we went for a spinnaker run between the westerly entrance to the harbour and Castle Cove.

Back to shore, I changed and made my way home to sort my kit out for the following day when I would be back down again in a slightly different capacity helping out on a safety boat course for the Academy.

I wasn’t disappointed with Sunday morning, calm as I’d hoped. On arrival I had to organise the canoe and Canadian canoe (kayak) to the pontoon.

The one thing that worried me about these two vessels was that neither of them had any sails – I was truly in foreign territory! I then put on my dry suit and made my way back to the pontoon to meet up with the Safety Boat and its crew.

The idea of the morning was that the candidates on the safety course needed someone to ‘rescue’ in order that they could put their newly acquired skills into practical use. My first task was to jump into the water whilst the Safety Boat was still moored to the pontoon in order that they could practice the technique of bringing a man over board on board. The second exercise involved me sitting in the canoe alongside the safety boat, which was still moored to the pontoon.

Then I had to sit there whilst they practiced bringing someone onto the RIB from the canoe, this would be for a canoeist that was tired or poorly but still upright in his boat. The next exercise involved me sitting in the canoe and then capsizing it which is a strange thing to do on purpose.

Your body in tipping the canoe whilst your brain is telling you to stay upright! First the Safety Boat crew had to rescue me – very nearly literally as the boots attached to the dry suit were quite big and didn’t want to easily come out of the canoe, at which point I was submerged under water.

It seemed like ages but couldn’t have been because within a matter of seconds I was free. They then had to retrieve the canoe and empty the water from it using the seesaw method whereby you rock the water from it in a seesaw motion.

I then switched to the Canadian canoe which is similar to a kayak. We went through similar exercises to the above but in this session I had to beach myself on the rocks in the kayak in order that they could do a lea-shore rescue which is when the strongest element – in this case was the wind – is pushing you onto the rocks, beach, slipway or other land.

Then came the really fun bit. I got into the RIB which sped away at high speed. I then had to jump off in order to simulate a man overboard in a real high speed situation. This test the crews knowledge but also their nerves as when things happen at speed, your reactions are not necessarily the same as when you have time to think. Another factor that also has to be considered is if someone comes out of the boat at high speed, you have to take into account the wake of the boat which sometimes makes it difficult to see the casualty.

All in all I had a fantastic time being the ‘casualty’ whilst not forgetting the seriousness of my role and hope that by assisting with the course, it made it a bit more ‘real’ for the crew.

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