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Doing something different

by Mark Jardine 1 Sep 2020 21:00 BST
Doing something different: My first attempt at making sushi © Mark Jardine

I'm a great believer in the philosophy of learning something new every day and this weekend has given me ample opportunity to do exactly that. I made sushi for the first time (see the results above) and sailed down a tiny creek at Keyhaven which I hadn't been down for at least 35 years; both were semi-successful!

2020 is the strangest of years for so many reasons but has been rewarding in many ways. I sailed the Scow with my youngest son in my local club's 'Commodores Cup', and over the two days we had an absolute blast on the water. Sunday had a gusty North Easterly, which provided shifts aplenty and great battles with Andy Ash-Vie (the founder of Harken UK, who my son referred to as 'The Dark Lord'), while Monday found the Race Officer in a sadistic mood, sending us on an 'adventure' course, with the upwind leg utilising a creek called Stivers, which is less than three metres wide in places, upwind and against the tide...

However, this race proved to be one of the most fun sails I'd had in a long, long time. As my son said as we excited to the Solent, "Dad, we did 45 tacks down that river!" (he's got a head for numbers), but we were made to think every step of the way. We worked out the balance between tacking too often and running into the mud, when to point and when to sheet off.

Not content with the 45 tacks taken earlier, Andy took the course to extremes. Returning from Mount Lake there is a very thin northern channel which can be sailed at high water. Andy decided that taking this was the only way to overtake us, even though it was upwind. His tacks sometimes lasted a mere five seconds, but he made it. Not enough to take the win, but an achievement in itself and a great demonstration of just how fun adventure sailing in dinghies can be. Below is a (crude) illustration of the course we took, with the initial part of the course in red, Andy's 'northern channel' route in yellow, and our much longer route in blue.

All in all, it was a great weekend for learning new things and one of my more memorable sails, in a year that has been peculiarly full of them.

The problem though, now that I'm approaching 50, is that every so often vital pieces of information that I used to know seem to get pushed out in favour of this new knowledge and memories... I'm a great fan of The Simpsons, and Homer fell victim to this in style, as you can see in this video.

Fear of flying

When it comes to perceived knowledge, Dougal Henshall is the master of finding out more about the history of sailing, often overturning what was the accepted truth about the origins of an innovation. His latest work looks at the history of foiling, with some surprising findings, stretching back 150 years!

Within this must-read article is a boat from the 1950s called 'Monitor', which bears more than a passing resemblance to the AC75 monohulls set for the 36th America's Cup. The boat had an on-board mechanical computer to control the main foils, reportedly broke the 30-knot barrier and was looking at completing foiling tacks!

Also unearthed are photos of a powerboat which used a 'forwardly extending and hydrofoil moving means'. otherwise known as the wand that is seen on all current Moths and many other foiling dinghies to control ride height.

Unsurprisingly this article has already been read thousands of times since being published on Monday. It's an extraordinary read and one which you'll need to devote a considerable amount of time to digest. Highly recommended though!

Events happening... and not

In the UK and Europe various events have been taking place with capacity turnouts.

The 51st La Solitaire du Figaro is under way with 35 solo skippers racing in their Figaro 3 yachts. In Weymouth the ILCA 7, 6 & 4 UK Nationals took place (that's the Laser, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 in old money) and the RS Aero UK Nationals took place in Eastbourne. Huge congratulations to the clubs and classes for organising the events in a Covid-safe way. It's no mean feat to get everything in place to allow racing to take place.

Australian events are suffering from the state border closures, meaning many national events scheduled for the foreseeable future are being rescheduled, or replaced with regional variations.

In the USA, the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Annapolis took place with 78 teams enjoying three days of great racing.

We're continue to receive news of event cancellations, but clubs are continuing to see bumper turnouts in their activities - one of the positives to take from the testing time we're all going through.

America's Cup hotting up

While we haven't yet seen them on the water, the first glimpses of the second boat builds of the teams set to contest the 36th America's Cup have been released. Currently shrink-wrapped and on their way to Auckland, New Zealand, it's expected that these will significantly move on from the first boats.

There's a must-watch video here of Devonport kiteboarder Nick Reeves (17yrs) lining up against the two AC75's sailing in Auckland. and are the places to find your fix of sailing news around the world. Please keep us posted with your events, big or small, via or and we'll tell the sailing community about your activities.

To everyone who sends in reports, and to all of you who read them, thank you.

Mark Jardine & Managing Editor

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