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Solway Yacht Club Cadet Week 2019

by Philippa Howie 23 Jul 2019 13:36 BST

The 2019 annual Cadet Week brought together sixty young sailors from the ages of 8 up to under 21s all keen to sail or improve at whatever starting level they joined with at the beginning of the week. Three training groups together with the out and out racers (black caps) were promised a great week: the basic training group, the 'red cap's; the improvers group, the 'white caps'; and the coached racers, the 'blue caps.'

The week was led by the Club's Cadet Officer, Joanne Harris, who was supported by a large team of volunteers. The detailed plan for the week, which has improved year on year, promised the organisation to be better than ever.

The racing fleet was divided into two classes for the faster and slower rated boats, plus a class for Topper dinghies with two races scheduled most days. Day 1, Monday and bright summer sun greeted everyone as they arrived. However, it was all sun and no wind, so initially the racing fleet was towed out and enjoyed a lazy half hour on the beach before a welcome sea breeze sprung up and it was out to the start line and serious competition.

By Tuesday there was more wind and everyone was sailing from the slipway with no towing required. Race 2 and the leading Fireball sailed the wrong course and, showing distinctly sheep-like characteristics, most of the rest followed. After a gap, the two tail end boats sailed the proper course and were delighted to find themselves placed first and second at the finish, so delighted was she that Claire Stewart interrupted Mum Anne's game of golf with her news apparently causing loss of concentration and inevitably losing the golf match.

Wednesday came and the sunshine had gone in exchange for heavy overcast skies and much more wind. Undeterred, the racers were out again ready for the flags to drop for the one long race of the day, the "Scauronian". Class 1 was a runaway win for James Bishop in his Laser, the only boat to avoid a capsize at the tricky mark off Rough Island. Class 2 and a first win of the week for Philippa Howie and Louisa Birdsall in their RS Feva. Theo Low and Kit Mackenzie were competing, not for race leadership but for record number of capsizes, leading the rest by an undisputed margin.

Thursday and better weather but still a few vicious gusts to catch out the young sailors many of whom enjoyed a capsize and swim. The basic trainees had progressed to the stage of learning the capsize drill; with their instructor James Howie assisted by Finlay Train, deliberately capsizing the training boat, it was a "dry" capsize for those who managed to scramble over the gunwale side and right the boat without a swim or a very "wet" capsize for those who weren't quick enough to do the scramble and ended up falling in and the resulting need to swim round the boat to right her.

This became quite a spectator sport with the rest of the beginners' class watching each capsize in turn, shouting encouragement usually followed by shrieks of laughter, while parents, friends and casual visitors looked on from the pier head.

The non-stop social side of the week was in full swing with a brunch on the beach for everyone on the Sunday before, through to evening events every day. Cadet Captains Claire Stewart, Lucas Pedley, Lily Bell and Douglas Copeman were in charge of organising the Monday quiz night and scavenger hunt before the Wednesday BBQ! The Cadet Supper and Ceilidh was as always the highlight on Thursday.

A delicious meal prepared by past Commodore Duncan Gillespie and past Cadet Officer Willie Patterson, was served by the instructors. The cadets, all dressed in their fashion best enjoyed the VIP "silver service" before the floor was cleared and local lifeboat crew member Ross Kennedy, led the ceilidh. This too became a competitive event with spot prizes of tuck shop sweeties keeping the young shop managers, Tamsin, and Bruce, very busy.

Friday morning and final race day began with both class leaders winning by only one point from respective second places and everything to sail for. Meanwhile in the hard-working galley, Philippa Copeman (chef extraordinaire and her team of volunteers) were running low on sausages due to heavy demand, being forced to find willing competitors happy to exchange their sausage sandwiches for bacon!

The Toppers too were having a close contest with Douglas Copeman just ahead of hard sailing Anna Miller going into the final day and Lily Bell winning the best SYC u15 prize!

Prize-giving followed on Friday evening and big thanks from all concerned to Stewart Biggar, PRO and his team, Pete Hammond and all the Safety Boat Crews, Philippa Copeman and her team in the hard -working galley. Special thanks went to Senior Instructor and 2019 Club Commodore Lindsay Tosh and his great team of inspirational young instructors and coaches; many young people received their certificates for RYA Levels having made great progress through the course of the week. Finally, biggest thanks of all was given to Joanne Harris the Club's hard working and popular Cadet Officer.

A total of 34 RYA 1, 2 & 3 Stage Certificates were awarded to young sailors.

Overall Results:

Handicap 1: 1st James Bishop
Handicap 2: 1st Samuel Bennett
Topper Fleet: 1st Douglas Copeman

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