Autumn Block Commences.

Saturday was a beautiful morning and as I headed down to the Sailing Academy I was especially pleased as it was the first time I had been dinghy sailing in nearly 10 days!

The Academy was absolutely buzzing as it was the first day of the RYA Volvo Southern Zone Championships. This is two days of racing between young sailors over many classes such as Laser 4.7, Topper, Optimist, RS Feva and more. They were all battling it out the courses on the Olympic waters in the regatta which concludes on Sunday.

My reason for being at the Academy was slightly different. Now that the days are getting shorter and the nights are drawing in, OnBoard and Race Club have moved from weekday evenings to Saturdays. This means we can get in two full sessions of sailing in good light.

First up was OnBoard Club. This is a local community club run by SailLaser at the Academy where younger members – aged 8 and over, usually with RYA Stage 1 and 2 – can come and sail a Laser Pico in Portland Harbour. I volunteer for this club and assist the younger members in their sailing and also provide safety cover from the RiB. The young sailors start by getting used to the handling of the boat and how to control it. Sometimes we play games in the boats such as ‘follow the leader’ and when they are ready, we mark out a short triangle race course to give them a little competition with each other.

Next up was Race Club. This is where I get to pull on my wetsuit and go sailing myself. This is generally in a Laser Radial although I do have access to other boats in the Laser range. Today I chose a Laser Vago. This is usually a double handed boat which is sailed with a harness and mainly controlled by trapezing from the boat whilst trimming the sails and controlling the tiller. However, with the addition of a carbon fibre tiller extension, it can be sailed single handed. This is still quite tricky and requires a little bit of skill but with a nice gentle breeze, I was soon heading downwind at a fair pace. Tacking and gybing proved a little more difficult and I took a bit of a swim but on the whole it was a great session and a good way to start the autumn block, which lasts for eight weeks. Hopefully over the coming weeks, I will be able to share with you the excitement of being on our very special Olympic waters

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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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