Well now the UK Qualifier season has ended we are into the training season. I am the training officer for the UK Laser Class Association as I feel that it is important to put something back into the class that started my professional Sailing/coaching career. This means I send UKLA coaches to clubs as well has heading up the class regional training programme.

The first weekend I was involved with was the Southern regional training at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. We certainly had a breezy weekend, and with the average wind approaching 25 knots I elected to spend the first day on shore. This proved to be a good decision as when we took to the water the next day when the average wind was more like 20 knots, most of the sailors found it pretty tough and four (one due to gear failure) had to be escorted home when the breeze proved too much for them.


However those who stayed out had a great time and learned a huge amount although everyone (coaches included) were pretty much exhausted after the three hours on the water session (with lunch on the water to save time by not having to launch and recover twice). This was probably exaggerated by the fact that it was wind with tide so we spent most of the day going upwind, but this did give me plenty of opportunity to get some good video of people’s rigs, steering and hiking techniques.

Straight after Lymington I was off to Heathrow airport to fly to Cork for my next coaching job. A quick stop off for a Sunday dinner with my old University friend Dave Hay and his wife was great. I am so busy at the moment, finding time for family and friends can be difficult but I always make the effort and it was lovely to have a catch up, however brief.

In Ireland I was working with Matty O’Dowd (who represented Ireland at the Youth Worlds this year in the Radial). I sailed against Matty in his spare boat with Ian Neely working from the RIB. Sailing against someone is definitely one of the best ways of helping them improve as it gives you a direct comparison of boat speed, height and also allows them to see your sailing style. Being quite a small man I need to make large body movements to trim the boat so it is pretty obvious what I am doing!

However the initial trip was not that smooth. Issue one was the airport car parking. The area where I had booked was restricted to 2.3 metres and with a boat on the roof I am over 2.5 (nothing was mentioned on the booking form). Fortunately they did find somewhere for me to park, near the fence of the exit barrier.

I finally made it over to Cork at 11:30, and I was pleased to see my bag as one of the first to come on the conveyer belt. Unfortunately at 12:00 I realised that the tube containing my tiller and tiller extension was not coming (it was still in London) so we headed for Schull, arriving around 2am, Fortunately the next day the wind was extremely light and we got in a good session before the wind disappeared completely, giving me somewhat of a rest day.

The next day both the wind and my tiller had arrived. In fact the wind was so strong (gusting 30 knots) we decided to wait for it to die down slightly so as not to risk gear failure) and then had a good afternoon session. The next couple of days saw a range of conditions and we were able to work on both boatspeed in big waves and short course racing in the shifty conditions around Long Island.

The final day saw an extremely strong forecast so we packed up with a day to spare and I caught the bus to Cork airport. Unfortunately the severe weather caused a delay on the flight which eventually took off a couple of hours late.

Finally it was time for me to do some sailing for myself and it was great to be back racing at Weir Wood (where I first started Laser sailing) in the Rooster 8.1 Nationals (a Laser hull with a massive 8.1 metre rig on it – quite a handful for little ol’ me!) Again there was a strong wind forecast…

The first day was certainly the lull before the storm. After the morning fog had cleared the race team at Weir Wood got four races underway although the wind rarely exceeded five knots. I won all four races, although to my embarrassment I did capsize when I put too much roll into my roll gybe (the 8.1 metre rig is MUCH heavier than my Radial).

Having reaped the benefit of being 20 kgs lighter than the average Rooster 8.1 sailor (the rig is after all designed for people who are too big for a Laser standard rig and I am too small for the Laser standard rig!) I was somewhat nervous about the strong winds of day two but in the end the wind was far too strong to race on the Sunday and racing was cancelled at 11:30. I couldn’t help wondering if the same wind that stopped me sailing on Friday in Ireland had caught up with me again!