I watched my first sailing competition this weekend. To be honest, I probably spent as much time trying to work out what was going on as I did enjoying the spectacle of Mustoe skiffs and catamarans racing on Kielder water, but it was a great experience.
If you've never seen a sailing race, it really is quite exhilarating, especially the start. You see, the start line is a virtual line between the official's boat and a buoy or marker on the water. The crews aim to get their boats across the line the second the starting hooter sounds. But you can't just line up a series of sailing boats and bring them to a stop. So as the time to start gets nearer, the crews all approach the line, jostling for position. We had a great view from the start boat.
Some of our teams were very eager to get going and we could see them crowding towards the start with 40 seconds to go, like a gaggle of over excited ducklings tumbling over each other in a race to be first into the water. Needless to say there were a few false starts!
It was a pretty spectacular sight to see all the boats lining up with their sails full and then to watch as they sped around the course. I really enjoyed watching the crews who use their body weight and position to steer, balancing out on trapeze style wires, leaning out horizontally, backs flat just inches above the water. That really appealed to my inner adrenaline junkie!
We've signed up to do a sailing course this summer, so hopefully we'll be able to take ourselves out on the water safely, but I doubt we'll be doing anything quite so acrobatic! I'm really looking forward to the combination of tactics and agility and learning yet another new skill.
We've been to the sailing club at Kielder a couple of times now, and everyone has been really friendly and helpful. I lost count of the number of times someone offered to sell us a boat. Now all I'm hoping for is some good weather…