A personal plea from Matt Gilbert.
I’m taking legal advice about some of the statements in the following article concerning myself, but I suspect I won’t have a leg to stand on. – Paul 😉
At the last Committee meeting, we were mulling over the perennial mystery – why is it that we have a relatively healthy membership (in terms of numbers!), but a relatively low turnout for sailing on Sundays?
Sunday, of course, is the day when the rescue boat is on the water and manned throughout the day, the Club boats are available and if you’re not sure how to rig them, somebody will show you, there are more people around which gives the place more of a club atmosphere and, if you want to, you can use the barbecue’s (to keep warm).
Sounds ideal, but where is everybody? The one theory on everybody’s lips was the dreaded word “racing”. We assume that a lot of members must be put off by the fact that Sunday is the day when we hold races – lots of very serious racing people charging around the Lake, hurling abuse at each other, making protests and generally making the Lake a place to be avoided, far better the serenity of a solitary sail on a Tuesday evening! Solitary sailing is brilliant, there can’t be many more lovely lakes on which to do it, but let’s dispel a few myths about Sundays at Colemere with the following points:
- The first point, with very few exceptions, is that we are all complete rubbish sailors. Don’t think you will be mixing with a band of Olympic hopefuls, our target is generally to stay in the boat! (And if you don’t believe me, what other club do you know that has a swimming trophy?)
- We ‘market’ ourselves as a friendly Club and, in fact, this goes right back to the reason why Colemere was formed as a break-away from Whitemere, that is how we’ve remained. If you want to sail seriously, then you’re probably better on the South Coast.
- We have no idea what a formal protest is, so far as I’m aware nobody even has a protest flag. I can even remember a few years ago when we had an open meeting the serious participants being told that if they wanted to protest, don’t bother, because we don’t do it at Colemere!
- For those that haven’t quite appreciated it, Sunday is part of the weekend, the day of rest. Not forgetting the Sunday worship bit (which is definitely allowed, just not recommended in the middle of a race in a bit of a blow!), we’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves and not getting frantic about sailing.
- The big topics of conversation at lunch are not about racing tactics, they are far more likely to be amongst the following:
- How is it possible for Paul Bullock to capsize when there is no wind?
- Did Paul Bullock capsize more than Hugh Farrington?
- Has Paul Bullock ever cleaned his Laser?
- Could Paul Bullock survive without a cheese and piccalilli sandwich?
- How much was the Officer of the Day paid to select a course that blatantly favours Lasers over Solos?
- Why did anybody ever bother to invent the Laser?
- Why haven’t we got an 80 horsepower engine on the rescue boat for water skiing?
Everybody is positively invited to have an opinion on these matters and, indeed, anything else that has nothing to do with being any good.
So for some reason, despite the myths, it is surprising that racing has stayed very informal at Colemere, it remains a day to be enjoyed rather than endured and that’s how we want to keep it.
And as you know, there’s plenty of room on the water, we are used to people sailing in different directions, sometimes because they’ve forgotten the course, but at other times because somebody is just out for a sail on their own, it’s not a problem.
And if you begin to enjoy the Club atmosphere on a Sunday, who knows, you might even dip your toe in the water (most of us dip a lot more than a toe!) and try a race. I started, hesitantly, a number of years ago (can’t say how many because you’ll wonder how it is possible after so long to have learnt so little!):
- I stayed right back at the start so didn’t get involved in the scramble on the start line (but I gradually got closer to it),
- I quickly found that sailing a course made for more interesting sailing, irrespective of where I was in the fleet,
- you quickly find that you are actually sailing pretty much as fast as everybody else, and if you’re not, you can copy what they’re doing with their sails,
- if you don’t get too close to anybody you won’t need to know the rules (but you soon pick them up),
- ‘winning’, to begin with, was about not being the las
t boat (come to think of it, it still is!).
I’m certainly not suggesting you should race on a Sunday, but it’s there if you fancy having a go, otherwise, just sail on a Sunday and enjoy the Club atmosphere.
And as you will hear from others, we have a so called special event on the 15th July with some racing, no doubt some very dubious handicaps so everybody stands a chance of ‘glory’, a totally non-competitive ‘sail past’ (for which on our 50th anniversary we had nearly 50 boats), I’ve apparently volunteered to light the barbecue (thanks Tom!), and you would still be more than welcome just to sail wherever you want. So, with a couple of weeks’ notice, why not put this date in your diary and see what Sunday sailing can be all about?
Paul Bullock showing you can race and sleep at the same time.
Perhaps he was praying!