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Academy News 20 August 2015

You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. It was only two weeks that I didn’t see my students and I started to miss them already. Despite the huge age gap between us, there is a kind of bondage which is beyond any racial or social differences. We get together every week through sailing and therefore overcome every other social aspect which might be able to stand in our way.
Since I have given up the hope that I will ever be able to control the outcome of any sailing day at our academy, I am feeling a lot better. If you randomly gather 20 young people and spread them out in 3 teams, there is always something unpredictable happening. And that’s the beauty of it, it will never get boring. Some of the students have been very eager to race our new sports boat, Always Well, and most of them eagerly started to rig the boat on Saturday morning. We found out that one winch was ceased and we had to replace a few blocks. Despite our effort to get the winch working we were running out of time and agreed to get her in shape before we will race the boat for the first time. I must admit it would have been a blast to sail her in the nice NW conditions.
Once we have agreed what we like to do for the day we usually split up the group in teams and then do a lottery which team gets to sail which boat. As matter of fact, as a designated skipper in our academy you almost start from scratch every week. All our boats get a lot of mileage throughout the year but since ‘Escape’ did get so much maintenance before and during the Lipton campaign, it’s fair to say that she is the fastest boat in our training fleet, by far. It’s almost winning the Jackpot if one team is allowed to race on Escape.
My team was not so lucky and we had to head out with JML1 to take part in the club race. In the rather testing conditions it took us only a couple of minutes to break the outer of the jib halyard and to find out that most cleats were slipping under the high load. We would not be able to drop our jib during the hoist of the spinnaker, but this proved to be our smallest handicap. Much more dramatic was the fact that the cleats of the jib sheets were not holding at all and that it was impossible to keep the jib sheet tensioned. It was an impossible task for our upwind trimmer to keep the jib sheet from slipping. The end result was a fairly poorly trimmed genoa right from the start. After racing in Lipton recently I had a fair judgement how nice a well-trimmed L26 can feel on the helm. Our archived trim with the old sails and poor sail trim on JML1 was far from it. The boat handled like a dog. This is the statement I hear a lot of times from seasoned sailors. The L26 is a dog. That’s only true if you don’t get the trim right. A well-trimmed L26 is a pleasure to sail and race in any wind condition. The physical effort needed to make this happen is however a completely different story. Despite our poor jib trim we arrived at the weather mark before most other boast in our class and decided that the angle would be too hot to hoist a kite. Down to the missing Milnerton mark, which involved a bit of guess work without a GPS, we rounded in the wake of the two boats in front of us, just to be safe. Then we hoisted the bag and it took exactly 5 seconds until the up haul of the pole broke and we had to retrieve the kite again. Racing on a boat when the hardware and running rigging is failing is not very funny and the whole team agreed that we will have to put another work day in to get JML1 in shape again. The team on Escape decided that their randomly put together crew was not skillful enough to race in these conditions and did not start the race for safety reasons. They did some sail training inside the harbor instead. A good decision from the skipper of the boat. There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity if you sail with young students. The team on Mac a Tini probably feared that the wind would get stronger and decided to hoist a rather small number 3 sail, which to me looked more like a storm jib. Needless to say that we were able to beat them even with a half trimmed genoa. The sail training on Sunday for the Homestead boys was transferred into the class room because of the strong SE conditions in the bay. Since these boys do have a bit of hard time to remember all the nautical terms, this was a welcomed chance to refresh their memories. Instead of sail training we will organize a work party this Saturday to get Always Well and JML1 in shape for the season ahead of us. We obviously will round up the day with a little sit together at the braai area, in front of our new room.
Our students have been looking forward to make use of the promised balcony which was supposed to be built in front of our new junior’s room. I have been told that certain people in our club find it unreasonable to spend money for the balcony. This would have extended our room and could have provided some much needed shade for the braai area. To me it is just amazing how short sighted some people in our club prove to be. In the next 7 years we would have made good use of the balcony to justify that expense. Well, we will survive without it just as well. Instead of sitting on the balcony we will go sailing instead. Thanks to some nice people for making that decision for us. Nobody will ever know how much value this balcony could have added to our club.

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