Bright and early on Saturday everyone arrived to see great winds blowing across Datchet Water and we all hastily rigged up, helping one another all anticipating a good, hard weekend of training. But not forgetting the bacon sandwiches which seemed to be flowing out of the club house, evidently the lighter boats were making gains in preparation for a day of hard hiking.
Promptly at 10am the group of youth sailors filled the wet bar and were welcomed to the club by Mike Beckett, Vice Commodore of Datchet Water Sailing Club and introduced to Jonathan Lewis who would be leading the weekends coaching along with Ben Palmer who was assisting for the Saturday! It was then all the sailors got to introduce themselves to each other, showing we had a wide range of teams ranging from “I’m RS Tera world champion” (not naming names boys…) to “I’ve never set foot in an RS200 before” but all had the same intended outcomes for the weekend, have fun and improve their RS200 sailing.
After a briefing Jon was keen to get us all on the water to focus on general boat handling, so everyone threw on as many layers as physically possible and got out there, ready and pumped for a morning of some hard sailing. Once we had got out near the middle of the reservoir we realised it was far windier out there that first anticipated giving us all the chance to work on boat handling in the windier conditions. We were set on a short windward/leeward course so Jon and Ben could assess all the sailors and find the focus points for the day. It was then they followed us all with a video camera catching all our mistakes as well as shouts of HIKE HARDER and KICKER being heard across the reservoir. After a fair few capsizes and a good amount of time on the water we all headed in for a morning debrief, lunch and to warm up (we can personally say the water is not warm!) ready for another full on afternoon.
The morning session concluded that none of us were sailing our boats flat enough and none of us were using enough kicker, so these were our aims for the afternoon as well as looking at sailing high and fast downwind, keeping it flat and getting our weight far back enough! We all set back out in the same winds as the morning with group and individual aims to achieve. The superstars for the afternoon were Coco and Morgan who are both Topper sailors and Tom and Toby, RS Feva sailors who were flying along giving the older sailors a run for their money. After another successful session on the water we were all sent in to warm up and be ready to watch the video debrief.
The video debrief really highlighted the improvements made between the morning and the afternoon with all sailors now understanding how much kicker to use and the boats were looking flatter with crews hiking even harder!
Our Saturday Social was a VR BBQ, with a range of brilliant food lovingly prepared by Mr VR himself all sailors and parents were fed within an inch of the lives, and the bar at the club was open allowing parents and older sailors to use all the facilities provided. But with a light wind forecast and early start the next day would that really be wise…?
On Sunday we all arrived at Datchet with aching muscles and certain parents feeling slightly fragile to see the water resembling glass, there were talks of the dreaded F word… fitness, but these were promptly dismissed and forgotten about and bacon sandwiches were chosen instead as that seemed a far better idea.
Promptly at 0930am Jon started a briefing and this time he was joined by Lucy Preston to assist him for the day. As it was evident that sailing was not going to happen until the wind filled in at about 12 o’clock we spent the morning looking at our rig’s and how we can set them up to ensure optimum performances from our boats. Jon explained how things like spreaders work on our boats and how we would want to set them up. We then all went out to our boats armed with loos gauges and tape measures to measure our mast rakes, spreaders and various other rig settings. We all came up with 3 rig settings to use in different conditions. Lucy and Jon went over everyone’s boats and advised us on things we could change/adapt. The path from the boat park to the onsite VR Super Store was well trodden with people buying rope to splice continuous kickers and new ratchets, cleats… you name it, we brought it!
Once the wind filled in we all quickly got changed and set off to find some wind with our light wind rig set ups! We all focussed on roll tacking efficiently, getting our weight forward and looking at our positions within the boat downwind sailing low and slow, seeing which positions suited each individual boats. Again Jon and Lucy were on hand to help us all get the most out of our boats providing us with endless hints and tips. We ended the day with a few short races but with the ever dying wind we were faced with a slow beat back to shore.
To finish the weekend we had our final debrief with Jon who left us all with many focus points for our year followed by a prize giving by the weekends sponsor Virtual Rigger where all participants of the weekend received a generous gift voucher from VR but the top prize winners from the weekend were:
Most Improved: Tom and Toby, RS Feva Sailors who used their knowledge gained in the Feva and applied it to sailing the 200.
Overall Performance: Will and Fiona who showed a consistent performance throughout the weekend and definitely proved they are a team to watch in the future!
Jon’s final quote for the weekend was “With sailors from the age of 13 sailing the 200 like they did… the established fleet better start looking over their shoulders!” … Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
We both really enjoyed arranging the weekend and meeting some of the RS200 Youth Sailors at what we hope will be the first of many RS200 Youth Training Weekends! We’d like to say a massive thank you to Jonathan Lewis, Ben Palmer and Lucy Preston for providing top class coaching for the duration of the weekend, Tristan Beckett from Tristan Beckett Photography for photographing the weekend, the staff and members at Datchet Water Sailing Club for welcoming us so warmly and allowing us to use the excellent facilities at the club, RS Sailing for giving us a loan boat allowing everyone to have a boat to use, Simon at Virtual Rigger for putting on an excellent BBQ and providing us with support and guidance throughout the whole process, we could not have done it without you Simon. Finally all the parents and sailors for making the weekend so enjoyable for all involved, especially Claudia’s Dad, Alastair who helped many new sailors to the class with rigging and who helped us throughout the weekend! And we look forward to seeing you all again soon as well as some new faces, hopefully at another Youth Training Weekend
Written by: Claudia Wilson and Alice Butterworth