Today was our first chance to sail single-handed and I have to admit I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. But after a classroom session detailing what we could remember, I decided it was better to face my fears than to put them off any longer.
So we headed off to the foreshore to rig six Toppers and three Comets for our group. These are small boats with only one sail, so relatively simple to rig. Before long we were all on the water practising tacking close to the shore.
I was quite happy just pootling about, picking up speed and then changing direction.
The trouble was, I can’t honestly say that I was following a planned route. I just went wherever the boat took me. I still had to think through the combination of movements, swapping hands, moving the tiller, ducking down as the boom came across and then straightening up again. I was saying the words to myself in my head as I was doing the actions.
I have to go through the same process everytime I try to learn a new skill that requires co-ordination and moving through three dimensions. New words, terms and concepts I can pick up and recite back to you easily. Learn and remember, yes. Apply in practice? Well that’s another matter entirely, as I proved when I attempted to sail a triangular course.
I was the first of our group to capsize. “Good chance to practice that capsize drill,” I thought. And as that’s pretty much the worst thing that could happen, it was good to get it out of the way early on. But I hadn’t banked on my brain deciding that this was a good time to take a holiday, leaving me sitting, sails flapping thinking, “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing”.
Thanks to some great support from Paddy and Jack in the patrol boat and Julie sailing beside me I did manage to complete a circuit or two and picked up quite a bit of speed. But as they were shouting confidently, “She’s got it now”, I knew that I was just following instructions and fighting off the frustration of feeling out of control.
Gary meanwhile was scudding along, ahead of everyone else, competitive instincts on top form and thoroughly enjoying himself. His more instinctive approach works well for him. As for me, I just need a lot more practice!