A personal account by Kriss Baird-Dean
Well the day of my first Regatta dawned. I was up at 6 to look at what the wind was doing – of course I knew it would change but at 6 it was strangely calm. Too calm!
We headed down to the Club full of trepidation and met up with the other competitors for Class 4 that we knew from the club. Connor and his sister Beth were there already and equally as nervous as me. We started to set up our boats and pulled everything tight as we had been taught, ready for the windy conditions.
At around 1.30pm we all started to launch in order to get to the start on time. It was windy but thankfully the waves were not too big as the East wind had come across land and not had the chance to whip the waves to any height. Arriving at the start was fine and we were happily reaching up and down when all of a sudden Connor and I got tangled up and my wind burgee got bent in the ensuing chaos. As Connor tried to free himself, he fell in! I was sure the final signal would go before we were ready. All was ok though and he got back into his Pico. Meanwhile time was passing by; it was getting near to the final signal when Beth said she felt unwell and retired from the race along with Connor. Dave meanwhile came over and fixed my wind burgee. Thank goodness as without it I could not tell the wind shifts apart! Finally the lights extinguished and we were away! It was very hard going getting up to the first mark and Dave capsized a few times on the way! I kept going and focused on the most direct route to the mark. I was sure I would be fine if I could just get round the first mark. Finally I got round and headed up to the” I” buoy. After that everything went well and I passed the Mirror from Bute and sailed on into the lead!!! I was amazed and overjoyed to win the first race of my first regatta!
The second day arrived and we were slightly more confident. For the first race I decided, on advice from Fiona, to put a reef in. I’m glad I did as once out there it was manic! The waves were much bigger than yesterday and again I was nervous as I desperately wanted to at least finish the race. We all got round the first mark “A” and were headed up to the “I” mark when the wind dropped! Naomi and I could only watch in horror as Dave took his reef out and stormed ahead. Naomi was in front of me too and with the reef in I could not catch her. As we rounded the last but one mark the wind picked up again ad we finished the race at speed! I recorded 3rd place and Dave won with Naomi coming 2nd.
We all went to the club house for a splendid lunch and then it was back out for the final race. It was 1 a piece for me and Dave so this was it!! I got a flying start! I tried to concentrate and not think of winning! I kept going in challenging conditions, having opted not to reef this time, my brave little topper Lucky carried me round the first part of the course with no problems. Going into the last part of the race on the run to mark “A” the water kept coming in over the front and I edged my way further back, round the “A” and onto the I – I knew if I could get round the”I” mark I could win! But as I got nearer the waves were bigger and bigger and Lucky kept filling up with water. I pressed on with the self-bailer doing its job. Finally as I got near the ”I” mark the wind had changed slightly and my tack didn’t work and Naomi and I both ended up in irons unable to tack away from the mark. I watched in horror as Dave, having realised the wind had changed, took a longer line out and rounded the mark before me. Finally I righted my wrong and got round the final mark, but too late I had lost my lead at the last mark. I had an interesting run in as the waves were by now huge and I surfed rather than sailed into the finish line taking 2nd place screaming all the way in! It was an exhilarating finish!
Even though I lost the last race and therefore didn’t win the class I had a brilliant weekend and still cannot believe that after only a year of sailing I competed in a real Regatta and came 2nd in Class 4!! Last year, I was helping out at the Regatta on one of the safety boats and had you told me I would be competing the following year I would not have believed you! Many thanks go to Fiona and Alasdair at the club for the training we received, they have been so encouraging. If you are reading this wondering whether to come and give it a try, I can’t recommend Toward Sailing club highly enough, it is a great place filled with great people all so encouraging and wanting you to succeed. If you are an old hand at sailing, I apologise for my suspect terminology!
All in all a great weekend, thanks to all the club members behind the scenes that enabled us to have such a great time, and Dave, I’ll be looking to beat ya next year!!!!…….