Sheffield Hallam hosted a great weekend of sailing high up in the Yorkshire hills supported by the NFA and myself (Chris Kameen). The NFA committee are keen to get more engagement with students and between Charlie Fitzgerald, Stuart Hudson and myself we managed to concoct what I would consider to be a really novel event.
For so many students going to events involves spending lots of time ashore interspersed with some short team races, followed by a great party, a hang over and a late start on Sunday which for many teams is an expensive way to gain team racing practice. Charlie’s idea was to run an event which had all the social elements coupled with great sailing for everyone, with a focus on developing skills that will help them in their sailing and team racing ‘careers’!
2 Teams from Birmingham, 1 from Lancaster, 1 from Liverpool, 1 from Kent, and one from Sheffield had a very full sailing and social programme, hosted by Pennine Sailing Club – the food was as good as I’ve had at any club – great bacon butties for breakfast, chilli or lasagne for lunch … just what was needed, oh and plenty of tea!.
Saturday morning – short course fleet racing, with two flights of boats each team did two races followed by a stint in either the finish boat or the start boat, whilst I went round in the coach boat giving tips on how to make their boats go quicker. For anyone who has had some success in team racing – we all know that being a quick firefly sailor and being able to start wins you about 75% of your races. Short course fleet racing is a great way to develop those skills.
Saturday afternoon we did some follow the leader and we were able to practice the art of slowing down on a reach and gybing with our mains pinned in. I love teaching and demonstrating how we can use the RYA 5 essentials in reverse to make our boats go as slowly as possible. We finished the day off with 3 team races to get the competitive juices flowing again ready for the evening….. I have no idea what went on.. but it certainly looked as though these students were doing the same as we were doing 20 years ago, judging by their appearance on Sunday!
Sunday dawned foggy but it soon lifted to be a glorious day. Sunday morning we did the reaching exercise in our teams of three, which was really useful and it was great to see the moves practised in the morning being used in the full round robin competition held in the afternoon. A team from Birmingham won the round robin and a 6 pack was awarded.. but for me the winner was the Firefly and Sheffield Hallam. The students gave up their time and organised a great weekend.
Hopefully we will see quite a few Student boats fleet racing at their clubs this year as part of their on going practice.