Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A perfect end

Work for me shuts down for August - as you will have deduced from the phone blog (!) and sailing dominates. Lys is sunning herself in Le Touquet!. But it's the end of August and we have just arrived back in Brightlingsea to enjoy the Mirror dinghy National Championship and to race in the complex annual "Round the Islands" race (three islands, any order, any direction... hmmm, tricky) - we were second this year (nearly, so nearly).

But arriving back after a long delivery trip from Cowes we were greeted by this end-of-the-day vista of our home port. Sunset at the end of a long voyage, a fab August and a real sense of back to home and work - both of which I enjoy hugely.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Fog. . .

I really do hate sailing in fog although in the summer it usually means a lovely day later. It has almost gone here - blue sky above already.

It is the way that things appear so suddenly: buoys, rocks, ships, Kraken. . . or in this case a helicopter. Fog masks sounds so that a buoy appearing with its bell clanging is very sudden - despite the boat bristling with electronics so that there are really no surprises, the effect is always a bit scary - esp on our UK East coast where the buoys often have sound chambers operated by waves which sound very spooky - "whooooaaaooo".

Luckily this fog bank cleared before we crossed Dover with all those fast ferries (and they are REALLY fast. The rest of the day was sun, wind and a fair sail home (at last!) from Eastbourne to Bightlingsea

Friday, 24 August 2007

Diversity works - boats, schools et al

Taking time out as we waited for the gales to subside - popped into Gurnard to watch the Prince of Wales trophy race for International 14 dinghies - one of the world's oldest development sailing classes. As a development class they are always trying for new ideas and the class is a wonderful confection of carbon and ingenuity.

Like learning, sailing has a huge number of variables - the physics of it is fascinating, but so is the meteorology, the tactics, the engineering, the teamwork and the battle against sometimes really horrid elements of wind and waves. Of course teams vary too - in the Int 14s there are many solutions to the single measure of success (ie "did we win") and the boats look very different, but perform in very similar ways; some conditions suit one solution, others suit a different "recipe" of the known ingredients of design.

It is just the same in designing schools - and here of course there are many and more complex measures of success (self esteem, exams, engagement and so many more). It is SO clear that one size does NOT fit all, and yet I keep meeting people who would seek to impose "one way" of doing things on learners.

Maybe they too should take time out to look at the International 14s?

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Hurricane season?

After a week's classic boat racing up on the East Coast in our 1939 Brightlingsea One Design we returned to Cowes to sail Cracker back home only to be trapped by some really horrid gales and rain - and this was in August!
Moored (if that is the word in gales like these) in Shepards Wharf on the Medina we looke across to Don's boat on the pontoon outside ours - his Iolare at 103 years old was struggling with huge standing waves - this isn't the best image - the boat was porpoising, but so was the pontoon so I had a bit of trouble getting near enough!!. But just ciount the bow ropes he had to rig to try to hold her down...

A couple of boats rank on their moorings during this storm - and we were quite pleased that we didn't get away - the gale in Dover (on our route home) registered 50 knots!! Some summer.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

English summer

So, after Cowes we dashed East to race our old 1939 Brightlingsea one design in Pyfleet Week. Unusually for the East Coast we had gales and some rain. Here is Lys's lovely lad Harry enjoying the rain. Irrepressable kids, aren't they? The Bucket Hat may be the fashion hit of 2007, given the summer we have had. . .

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Instant community. . .

It's amazing how quickly communities can form when there is a common interest. We are rafted with 6 others for Cowes Week, one of countless similar 'columns' all over town. We - Dutch, French, English, Scots - all follow each other's results, hopes, dreams, tragedies and more. But after 8 exhausting races we will be gone. Until next year. . .

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Going up

Here in Cowes Week with almost 1,000 other raceboats - surely one of the biggest sailing regattas in the world and huge, huge fun.

The racing in Class 3 is very competitive - lots of pro teams and a great standard. We are pleased to be doing well but are still finding little details to give up more speed. Here David - one of our bow team - is up our big carbon mast fixing a few details. Proper brave and yes, it is as high as it looks!

Friday, 3 August 2007

Size matters?

Well. Cowes Week starts tomorrow and we are down serf doing all the prep needed for a thousand boat regatta. We have 53 boats in our class 3 but there are some whopping boats here too. As you see our trusty white van is dwarfed by the behemoths around it. Cowes gets bigger every year - so do the boats and now so do the vans! Should be a fab week, watch this phoneblog. . . .