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Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom LEADERBOARD

Blind Sailing in Lockdown

by Lucy Hodges 26 May 06:17 BST
Sailing at South Cerney Sailing Club © Blind Sailing

It was a great start to 2020, being back at South Cerney Sailing Club and joining in with winter racing in their Chill Dog Series. Our focus for winter training was time, time ashore, time to ask a question and time to think.

Sailing at South Cerney allowed the sailors to spend time ashore then hop out on the water and practice, but also come back ashore and ask more questions then go back out again. We also use the winter to try new skills like spinnakers, our focus being that the sailors, no matter what sight level, understand and are able to crew and helm with confidence with a kite, this was a key to our racing plan for 2020.

It was great to take part in the Chill Dog racing and see Ben Hazeldine and Edward Kitchen take the win, it was also a great moment to see some of our new sailors hit the start line with 25 boats and watch Kate Healy helm her first race. Kate said, "It was a great feeling, the trust and confidence Malcom put in me, he never flustered, but kept installing confidence, we may have been at the back of the fleet but what a feeling, to take the helm in a race". Our last weekend on the water was in March just before the Monday lockdown, but was great to end on a high.

We acted fast as a committee and put our training and fun get-togethers online thanks to Zoom. Wednesday was fun and laughter with different themes and Sunday was special guest and learning. We are truly thankful to our amazing line up so far.

Wednesdays have been a great way to get to know each other more. Training and racing we can be so busy, and the buzz of sailing can dictate the chats, but with time ashore we have more time to find out more about each other. Some of the themes have been tell us your favourite sailing story - I know sailing, but it is interesting what you find out!

Build a boat out of anything in your property. Now this created family fun and mess, Lucy even shared her design with her work colleagues to see how they would judge i5. The evening was full of laughter and it was great to have Joff McGill RYA Sailability Manager judge the entries. Third place went to James Wheeldon and Ellie Davies with 'No Crap Here' a loo roll with a great origami boat on the side. Second place went to Will Morris, now who has carbon fibre just laying around, well Will does! With Blind Sailing receiving a message at nearly midnight the day before from Liz, Will's mum saying "I blame Blind Sailing for the mess in my kitchen" we wondered what we would see, but I think we may have found Will's career designing model boats. Will built his boat with the base being a plastic bottle and carbon fibre, two wheels and sleek black and white design certainly looked the part and gave it the name of Dilligaf. But first place went to Charlie Griffiths with Blue Bear, Charlie and her mum had great fun all day making a boat that Charlie could fit in and pretend to sail. We are not sure how effective an ironing board is as a rudder but congratulations to Charlie for picking up first prize. Big thanks to Inspiration In You for donating Amazon vouchers for 1st and 2nd place and thank you to Joff for great judging and making the night special.

But the oddest night yet has to be bring your oldest or most Precious Possession. All I can say is it is amazing what Martin Philips has bought over the years, and the story's behind the items, let's just say one rum filled night the purchase of a 3ft French sailor was made, we are pleased to say the plastic kind. It has found a home in Martin's house. We found out Gary and Chris had a sporting passion from a very early age, Chris in winning the obstacle course and Gary in penalty shoot-out, whilst Sally started at an early age winning awards in music as a keen clarinet player. Eddie spoke about his collection of Hornby trains and about his late dad, it was an amazing collection and something we all looked back at with childhood memories of trains of some sort. You may say what is all this fun and laughter to do with sailing but understanding the team and the people in it are key and we look back at this time with a smile.

Sunday nights have been empowering and inspirational along with educational. Blind Sailing cannot thank our guests enough for the time they have given up and for turning any presentation into a living picture, we leave each Sunday night full of thought and even more passion for the sport. But one thing has rung true from all our guests and that is everyone has a battle to get to the top and the top can change, it's those battles that make you stronger and build the sailor in you and it is true to say that Covid-19, has been a battle for some, being visually impaired and getting out and about and keeping social distance is hard and, as we use touch to understand our world, maintaining safety has been a struggle, but one all the sailors have overcome and these talks have kept that inspiration and passion to keep going.

Our line up to date:

  • Stuart Bithell, a friend of blind sailing and Olympic sailor. It was great to hear his story from growing up with some of our volunteers and sailing at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club a club that also backs Blind Sailing too. How COVID19 has changed his sailing seeing the Olympics moved to 2021.

  • Annie O'Sullivan, an inspiration to the women of our group, never give up and aim for your goals, her passion of what you can achieve and her drive came through to our sailors from her voice. Annie is working with key project like The Maiden Factor and The Scaramouche Project, to great projects supporting women and girls.

  • Tracy Edwards MBE, listening to her life story and having the chance to ask questions was special to the group. Tracy's story hits home with so many and again it's having that belief in yourself and with a strong team around you, success happens and even if you hit rock bottom you can come back stronger. This rang true with our sailors who often face battles, but they all find ways to overcome them. And then listening to the story of Maiden today sailing around the world empowering and enabling girls into education was fascinating.

  • Taylor Canfield, well he gave us a night of communication and it was amazing to hear that our communication is no different, 321 and also importance of a calm voice, even if inside you there is panic and you know that the cross is going to be tight, but your words to the team have to be clear and calm!

  • Nic Douglas, Adventures of a Sailor Girl - again Nic gave her life story and how her sailing journey has now created her company that brings sailing into so many people lives around the world. Nic spoke openly about her ups and downs and how she came back stronger. One message was key the people you meet along the way can inspire you and help you with your journey and that hit home to what was happening during lockdown on a Sunday night sailors from all around the World were coming together to share their story and encourage. You can hear our chat with Nic here.

  • Jonny McGovern, part of the coaching team and also a sailor and a coach that has a story that inspires. Jonny's love of sailing comes out in every word and as the VI's listened we got more drawn in. Jonny provided a great talk on mindset for the type of day and it is interesting that in Covid-19 lockdown, we have had to change our mindset, or we could have ended up on the sofa.

  • Ben Hazeldine, a coach, a tactician and a friend of Blind Sailing, but at such a young age has a story to tell that many of our group did not know. His truth around the decisions he has made before he was 20, how Blind Sailing has supported his professional sailing career, giving him skills and understanding of what he can do in sailing. Ben spoke about the 2019 RYA Keelboat League final, he said that was a highlight and were he knew he could take on a challenge and with the trust in the crew could achieve anything, sailing within inches of other boats kite up and a blind crew matching and competing with some of the best sailors in the UK was special.

  • Dave Perry, a star of Match Racing and a friend to all sailors. Dave gave a Q&A to the sailors around Match Racing and his 9 week online course, which many of our sailors are taking part in and it was great to hear Sally Rodrigues say, "I could picture every word and imagine the situation, it is amazing when I think of how much my knowledge has grown." Sally won silver at the 2018 World Blind Sailing Championships - her first World Match Racing event - and now sets sights on 2021.

  • Steve Irish, is a coach and a friend to Blind Sailing. Steve, as with Jonny, put in the fundamentals of getting to the start line and have a plan for the day. It was great to watch it unfold over the three weeks and realise that planning and routine are key to on the water success. All of this learning can be done ashore, reading the call books of the venues thinking about how you feel and the fuel you put inside you, all things we can look at whilst in lockdown.

Blind Sailing has taken this lockdown and grasped the chance to learn with both hands, but what has comes out of this situation that has also helped use during lockdown also take on to the water. In this time learn what you can control, know yourself and the characters of others in the team to support, a kind, calm word goes a long way, fitness and fun can make your mind and body healthily. We are coming out to take to the water so much stronger.

What's next? More learning online for our current sailors but also a FREE online Start Sailing course for anyone one who wants to know more about sailing, meet new friends and may be the start of the journey to becoming the next World Blind Sailing Champion. The course is open to anyone with a level of visual impairment, you may never have tried sailing, or tried it ones or twice and want to know more. This course is here to do that - find out more and book here.

Following this will be a volunteer seminar on how you can get involved and volunteer with Blind Sailing or how your club can support our Sail at Home Project. See www.gbrblindsailing.co.uk

We owe so much thanks to all involved, many more than named above, we are also thankful to Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club for their kind donation in support of helping the charity create this learning platform.

Follow us on our adventures at @BlindSailingUK . We hope you will see us on the water at the end of 2020 for a special Blind Nationals.

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