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Noble Marine Insurance sponsored Musto Skiff training at Stokes Bay with Russ Clark

by Russ Clark 10 May 2018 16:35 BST 14 April 2018

On an unusually foggy and windless Saturday on the south coast, eight Musto Skiff sailors gathered for a day's training at Stokes Bay Sailing Club. The session was deliberately aimed at those new into the class and those looking to improve their boat knowledge to move them up the fleet.

Sailing experience in the group varied from those with only a few months in the Musto Skiff to former champions from other classes. This meant the questions flowed and group participation was high.

The shore training started with a front to back, top to bottom run down of a fully rigged boat, passing on top tips gained from 10 years coaching the class on ways to make sailing the Musto easier and more efficient. This covered everything from the static set up including spreader measurement and rig tensions to rake settings, foil positions and control line use. We also discussed hoisting and lowering sails, launching and recovery. With the mainsail hoisted and the outhaul and traveller set, the functions and effects of each control line (mainsheet, vang and cunningham) was demonstrated, initially individually then in harmony to show how the Musto rig can be adapted for different conditions. There were a few winces, oohs and aahs as I pulled the controls too their maximum to emphasise how controllable the Musto rig is!

As it became apparent the visibility was unlikely to lift we shifted the conversation to boat handling including the bear away, hoist, gybing, dropping the kite and tacking before we took to the boat cover and chairs to walk through the footwork and hand placement. With heads full of info we took a break for lunch and to assess plan B.....

Temptingly, the sun came out on the beach but the fog remained tantalisingly close offshore and not clear enough to run safe training on the water. Plan B consisted of a white board session in the sailing club discussing racing situations. Hot topics included starting preparation (including line bias, transits and risk management) and leeward gates (get in quick and get out quick...). Tapping into the experience around the table and with guest appearances from Ben Schooling and Dan Vincent the session proved fruitful and wetted the appetite to get on the water the following day for club racing.

With the decision made not to hit the water I took the opportunity to check each sailors boat over and see where we could make individual improvements. Tensions were measured, rakes checked and control lines marked. Although it was disappointing not to get sailing, the opportunity to give personal training ensured each sailor went away with a well set up boat, an understanding of the subtleties of the Musto Skiff, questions answered and a burning desire to get on the water and put it all into practice... As a postscript something clearly sank in as some of my students showed me the way around the racetrack the following weekend at the Open meeting!

Thanks to Stokes Bay Sailing Club for hosting and Noble Marine Insurance for sponsorship of the class training.

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