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Cadet class winter training at Grafham and Itchenor

by Neil Collingridge 7 Feb 06:38 GMT 27-28 January & 3-4 February 2018

Recent weekends have seen significant Cadet Class training sessions with 3 different squads training at Grafham and Itchenor over the 27/28 January with a further weekend of training at the start of February for the RYA National Junior Squad at Grafham.

South Zone Regional Cadet Training at Itchenor

This training squad was 15 Cadets strong, with substantial representation from South Cerney Sailing Club & Frensham Pond Sailing Club. The excellent Alex Corby & Lucy Terkelsen were the coaches for the weekend - both experienced ex-Cadet sailors.

The Cadets and their entourage arrived early on Saturday morning to be Rigged and Ready for 9.30. Itchenor warmly welcomed the Cadets as ever and those Parents, Helms and Crews that had not previously been there were treated to the wonderful setting and historic old buildings and facilities that make up this idyllic club. A special treat was the welcoming roaring open fire where fireside armchairs were are at a premium.

Conditions were set to be challenging with wind speed averaging >25knots and significant gusts forecast but excitement levels were high, as Helms and Crew headed for the briefing. Boat speed, tides and 'trying new things' were to be the order of the first day.

The Cadets were launched and out into the harbour in short order. The coaches expertly created a learning environment that all Cadets could benefit from and ensured, most importantly, all Helms and Crews were safe and having fun.

A few Cadets found the limits and experienced the thrill of the capsize - some more than once - but all with a smile on the Helms and Crews faces. All part of the learning experience say the coaches!

Sunday conditions started the same as Saturday but the wind eased progressively throughout the day to provide some champagne sailing conditions and an excellent opportunity for the Cadet sailors to learn new skills and hone their knowledge. Starts, Downwind Boat-handling and Spinnaker playing all featured in the coach's drills. However, it was noted in the afternoon that the boat speeds were marginally slower due the the Cadet Helms and Crews being weighed down by the excellent Itchenor Sunday Roast.

By the end of the weekend, the Cadet Helms and Crew all had specific areas to focus on as a boat and as individuals when they returned to their clubs. A fun weekend sailing was had by all.

The Cadet Regional Zonal training is open to all so the more the merrier at ISC for the next South Zone Regional Training on the 24th/25th February. Further details are available on www.cadetclass.org.uk.

RYA NJS and UKNCCA National Squad at Grafham

The same weekend up at Grafham Water Sailing Club Tom Mallendine and former cadet champ, Chris Brewer were putting the RYA National Junior Squad through their paces in similarly breezy conditions. With gusts of over 30 knots it was full on sailing with a focus on the Saturday on starting. Slightly less wind on Sunday saw better training conditions as the focus moved away from pure survival.

Over with the National Squad the legend that is Mike Macnamara assisted by Podium Potential Squad 49er sailor, Rhos Hawes (himself an ex-cadet) set about getting their huge experience and knowledge across to their squad sailors. As is often the case when Mike Mac is in town, adults were seen snucking into the back of his briefing sessions to make sure they were gleaning what they could for themselves too.

All the sailors benefited hugely from the challenging conditions - rumour has it most had reached new levels of exhaustion and were sleeping happily on the back seats of their wagons before their drivers has even hit the A1M on Sunday night.

For the NJS, boats were left at Grafham for a residential camp the following weekend at Grafham Sailing Centre. Rather calmer conditions saw no sailing on Saturday due to flat calm but Tom, this time assisted by Podium 470 sailor Amy Seabright, used the time to great effect with starting theory, mock protests, pre race and pre start routines. Sunday's winds were averaging 13 to 15 knots - starts, short races, focus on linking the start to the first beat strategy. Great practice in two sessions split by a lunch break to warm up from some of the coldest conditions of the winter so far.

A big thank-you to both Grafham Water Sailing Club and Grafham Sailing Centre for their continuing support of the class and its sailors for the future.

The Cadet Class continues to combine the best of young and not so young coaches to the huge benefit of these young sailors. The fun had is clear to see - even the smallest of the crews are keen to be back soon and everyone has points to take away and practice at their local clubs. It's particularly encouraging to see the great take up of the regional Open training by some of the less experienced sailors. Just because they've done less sailing makes them no less enthusiastic to learn and progress. Skills for life are being developed whilst forging friends for life at the same time. Come and join in.

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