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Record Solway Yacht Club Cadet Week

by Ian Purkis 31 Jul 2017 18:25 BST

Cadet Week 2017 broke all recent records for the Solway Yacht Club in Kippford. The seventy cadets were a recent record number and included several from overseas, another record.

The young sailors are now provided with a development pathway in groups identified by different coloured caps, inspired by the French Foreign Legion! The beginners, the Red Caps group, improvers group the White Caps (Kepi Blancs!), coached racers the Blue Caps and the out-and-out racers, Black Caps. The Club Cadet Officer had appointed several Cadet Captains in different categories, giving the young people real responsibility for the organisation and running of the week.

Weather conditions varied dramatically over the week from light, almost windless conditions, to stormy strong winds, testing the experienced to the limit. I

On day 1, in glorious sunshine and steady winds, the various activities started. The racers were out in the bay and competition was close. At least one "coming together" saw a damaged boat but the outcome was an early series lead for Lucy Wilson and Ben Ibbotson in their 29er, along with Duncan Blandford (Laser) and Douglas Copeman (Topper) in their various classes. Meanwhile the beginners were starting to find their way round their sailing boats.

Monday evening and the traditional "Mudlarks". Tug-o-War in the mud followed by "Capture the Flag" and a lot of slip-sliding down "Mud Mountain" into the water. With adult supervision watching closely, it wasn't long before they too found themselves somewhat muddied but all in good fun.

Tuesday and with precious little wind it was a slow sail out but then what wind there was dropped to nothing. Not deterred the enterprising cadets rafted-up and with a music system that mysteriously appeared and had a party. A few zephyrs appeared, the wind came in and the music stopped; racing was ON!

In complete contrast, Wednesday dawned with strong winds and heavy rain; by the race start time the wind had abated sufficiently for the experienced racers to launch That evening was the culmination of the social programme with the Cadet Dinner, exclusively for the young but with table service provided by the Commodore and Cadet Officer, and the chef, a past Commodore. All went well until the Ceilidh started and "Oh No!" a power cut! Local lifeboat crew-member and Club Safety Boat Officer Ross Kennedy who also happens to be an excellent DJ and caller, disappeared only to return moments later with a portable Ceilidh system saving the evening. As one young lady left she asked... "can we have the lights on now?" If only!

Thursday and still very windy and again the beginners were confined to shore based learning while the racers were having a blast round the bay.

Friday, the final day and still the wind pushed everyone to the limit, disappointing the beginners who nevertheless had the opportunity to watch the expert racers from several powerboats provided for the purpose. To conclude they did capsize exercises, steadily building their confidence.

Overall results gave Lucy Wilson & Ben Ibbotson first in the fast handicap fleet in the Olympic training 29er boat, with Finn Mitchell in his Vortex second, only one point ahead of Zak Holland and Huw Williams in their Dart 18 catamaran.

In the medium handicap fleet Duncan Blandford in his Laser Radial (another Olympic class) was the clear winner with Emily Biggar and Megan Patterson second in their 420, yet another Olympic training class. The leading German entry, Maret Schon was 5th in another Laser Radial while the second German entry Karl Schroder was 9th.

In the third (slower) fleet the result was incredibly close with Kenneth Frazer and Monty Low in their Mirror winning by one point from Lucas Pedley and Douglas Copeman (both in Toppers) on equal points behind but with Pedley being awarded second on count back rule.

Prize-giving rounded off the week with the successful collecting some magnificent trophies while the beginners had at least reached RYA Level 1 and were presented with their certificates. The young Cadet Captains then presented their fun prizes to their fellow competitors varying from a dog lead to stop one from falling overboard to another awarded a tube of superglue having broken just about everything on his boat! The evening concluded with a presentation of Club Burgees, exchanged between the Solway Yacht Club and the Wandlitzer Segelclub, home club of our German entrants.

As recently as five years ago just twelve young sailors took part in Cadet Week; in 2017 the number had grown to seventy. Five years ago Willie Patterson took over as the Club's Cadet Officer; the growth and success achieved is a tribute to his vision, leadership, drive and enthusiasm. Sadly, this was to be his final year as he retires from the role at the end of this year. Congratulations Willie, truly wonderful job done!

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