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Savouring being back out on the water, but missing the karate sailing

by Mark Jardine 25 May 18:00 BST
Land Rover BAR's David 'Freddie' Carr and Paul Campbell-James messing about on boats on a windless Saturday at Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Bermuda © ACEA 2015 / Ricardo Pinto

It seems I struck a chord when we published 'The great grass-roots revival?' a fortnight ago. Since then lockdown restrictions have been gradually eased in both Australia and England: we're allowed to go sailing! Rules vary from nation to nation within the UK, and state to state in Australia, which makes things confusing, but the hope is that all will be able to get out on the water soon.

We of course are continuing to observe social distancing rules and need to be mindful of the conditions we're sailing in. While completely avoiding risk is impossible, with due care we can minimise the chances of needing rescue and that of having contact with people from outside our household.

Where it's possible, local club sailing is thriving. My own club at Keyhaven, nestled behind Hurst Castle at the very Western end of The Solent, has been bustling with activity. A myriad of craft are launching to take advantage of the glorious weather we've been having in the UK - another May bank holiday weekend with sunshine is a rarity indeed...

Saturday's high winds saw the kite surfers out in force; Sunday's solid breeze, gusting 25 knots at times, was enjoyed by the single-handers such as Lasers and Finns (one of the regulars decided instead to take their foiling windsurfer for a spin) and more than a few families sailing together.

Sunday for me was crewing in an RS Feva for my eldest son. At six-feet tall this is possible, although the complaint I heard most was that I was in the way and needed to duck down... easier said than done! It was a hugely enjoyable sail and my son came back beaming from ear to ear. This surely is the great grass-roots revival in full effect.

On Monday I took the Feva out again with my youngest son for his first sail of the year. After a morning of no wind, a light South Westerly sea breeze filled in, making it ideal. A plethora of dinghies, RIBs and paddleboards were taking advantage of the fine weather. A perfect day for 'messing about in boats'.

The two big missing elements are of course racing and the club social scene - the rivalry, the camaraderie, the post-race karate sailing*, the burgers on the barbecue, that beer at sunset after a close race.

What am I missing most? Without doubt it's the Lymington Thursday evening keelboat series. Sailing in a menagerie fleet of 80 boats in relaxed atmosphere with a bunch of good mates as we zig zag our way around the Western Solent is a highlight for many through the summer months. Social distancing on a keelboat isn't practical and the joy we gain from this is going to have to wait for the time being. It will return, and the enjoyment we derive from it is going to be savoured all the more after the enforced break.

It isn't fine weather everywhere, and our thoughts are with all those along the West coast of Australia being battered by ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga.

Stay safe everyone.

Mark Jardine
Sail-World.com & YachtsandYachting.com Managing Editor

* Karate sailing - the hand actions made when discussing a scenario on the water, most often boats crossing

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