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Gul 2020 LEADERBOARD

UK National Cadet Class - Bish, Bash, Bosh sailing this winter

by Neil Collingridge 15 Oct 08:45 BST
UK Cadet class winter sailing © Tim Hampton / www.timhampton.uk

As the summer draws to an end the UK National Cadet Class has been busy drawing up plans to keep the young sailors sailing as much as possible but always with a keen eye to behaving responsibly in the Covid world we find ourselves in.

Venue cancellations put a end to the fleet's usual autumn squad selector events and with clubhouse and changing rooms shut the rearranged Nationals also went by the board. But unperturbed the Class has developed a new concept -The Winter Championships - which is a series of one day events with up to 4 races a day through the winter, each counting as a separate event but also counting towards an overall prize. This is designed to be Bish, Bash, Bosh Sailing... Arrive, Rig, Race, Leave... so as to minimise risk of infection but also to allow people to make last minute decisions as to whether they can attend based on the weather and any relevant Covid restrictions.

At the start of half term the notoriously tricky Frensham Pond will kick things off on 25th October. Will the local Surrey posse rule the roost or will some visitors master the shifts and overhanging trees? A warm welcome is expected but Frensham's cadet alumni list leaves no one in any doubt as to the quality of dinghy racers this club has turned out year after year.

Shortly after that on Friday 30th October the circus moves on to Waldringfield Sailing Club in Suffolk - home of "better than nothing sailing" after lockdown - where the recent Cadet Weekend saw a cracking 22 boat fleet mastering strong winds and challenging tidal conditions. With plenty of new pairings and some new small helms and smaller crew coming through it will be interesting to see the form book developing.

Crossing the country to the Cotswold Water Park, the fleet will return to South Cerney Sailing Club on 28th November, venue of a very successful last squad training event just prior to the Covid lock down in March. If we get conditions anything like last March there will be plenty of thrills and spills as the wind barrels down the lake and gusts between the large New England style houses that fringe it.

The fourth event currently scheduled will take us to Grafham on February 6th - likely to test the resilience of event the hardiest of Cadet Sailors. Get that dry suit or at least a beanie hat on your Father Christmas list as it could be brass monkey weather. Who can forget the 2019 qualifier when the fleet turned upside down in unison as a bad black cloud swept down from the top of the reservoir?

With squad weekends difficult to hold at away venues without classrooms and showers, the Class' focus for training through the winter will be at the major squadrons. Frensham and South Cerney are always active through the winter anyway and are well advanced with their planning and Waldringfield will move to winter quarters at Royal Harwich where the galley and showers are open and a winter race series runs on Sundays - opportunity for hardy (or deranged) parents to also go for a sail. All the Winter Championships events will also include a coached regatta fleet for the less experienced and to encourage those less used to travelling to come out and play.

The Class Association is resolute in taking its opportunities to sail when it safely can do so to ensure the fleet continues to thrive and sailors continue to develop. Some dates, no doubt, will fall victim to the weather or to pandemic restrictions but as one day events they will be easily rearranged if at all possible.

More Winter Championships dates may get added as the winter progresses and more clubs open up for events but the emphasis will remain on safe, fun racing for all levels. After the disappointments of 2020 - and there have been many - we have the undoubted attraction of a Worlds in Riva del Garda to look forwards to in 2021, pandemic permitting.

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