With thanks to:
Rockley Watersports


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The Next Level

2: Gybe-tastic

My biggest achievements of the weekend included realising that a gybe wasn’t as scary as I’d believed, and sailing a triangle course all on my own and understanding properly what I was doing.

It’s hard to remember what it is like to be a beginner when you become really good at something. So many assumptions are made: a competent person often takes for granted what a beginner understands, even including the simplest of things, when in fact it can take several attempts and much repeating of information for ‘the penny to drop’.

Therefore, I was very pleased that Level 2 actually covers again a lot of what is included on the syllabus of Level 1. It was also great to have patient instructors, keen to encourage and never flustered by mistakes. I was equally as amazed — using sailing a triangle course as an example — how much of Level 1 suddenly made sense after taking a second weekend at Level 2. We had sailed triangle courses at Level 1, but if I’d been left in a boat alone I would have been totally lost!

We started the weekend in groups sailing in Wayfarers, with an instructor in each boat. Although separated into boats according to ability, the Level 1 and 2 sailors all went out in a fleet together.

We spent our time initially recapping basic skills, including tacks, wind direction, sail handling, and the dreaded gybes. We all took it in turns to helm our boat, with the instructor taking a back seat role and helping or prompting us where necessary.

I was reminded of how often I used to repeat the mantra ‘mirror-signal-manoeuvre’ when I was learning to drive, as I carefully thought about my body position, the movement of the tiller extension, avoiding the boom, controlling my body weight, straightening up, and getting the mainsail back into the right position on my tacks. Also thinking carefully about wind direction and what was involved to round different marks.

Then came the fearsome gybe. Like an emergency stop or parallel parking, as a beginner this particular aspect of sailing fills me with dread. I sometimes find myself wishing a sailing boat does in fact have an emergency stop, to give me the opportunity to just hit the brakes and think about what I’m doing! Many deep breaths later I managed it… and was very chuffed when my instructor commented, ‘You could video your gybes for an RYA instructional manual they are so perfect.’ That definitely had me beaming from ear to ear!


With thanks to:
Rockley Watersports

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Many years on driving is almost second nature

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I bit the bullet and tackled the trinagle-shaped course on my own

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