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Weeks 3 & 4 as told by Leap student Stephen

Leap for Success student Stephen Cooke talks about weeks three and four of his 11 week course. As the Beast from the East hits Poole Harbour, he talks sailing in the snow and the art of a good presentation. 

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Week 3 & 4 Intermediate Sailing

Our Intermediate sailing weeks stuttered just two days into week three. We started promisingly but our sailing was halted by the Beast from the East…No not Genghis Khan or Putin (too soon after Salisbury?) but a freak cold spell that brought some snow. Here in the supposed warmer part of the UK it still baffles me how a light dusting of the white stuff stops this country in its tracks.  In our defence we were right to halt our sailing - with temperatures of minus one but with a wind chill, it felt more like minus six. As the temperature drops so does your concentration. I am fortunate enough to have a thick winter wetsuit and a drysuit but even with them it was still bitterly cold. On Wednesday we did some presentation practice on a topic of our choice.  Despite us revelling in the improvement of our personal sailing skills it is vital to remember that we are training to be sailing instructors not just sailors. Whilst our competency is important, so to is being able to stand up in front of people and impart knowledge. Good presentational skills for me includes being able to engage as well as being clear and confident. We had presentations on astrology, cocktails, football and cycling to name a few.  On Thursday Pete gave us a thorough introduction into Navigation, Weather and Buoyage.  It was a nice break from sailing but still relevant, plus we got some nifty dividers to play with.

 

Friday of week three was an impromptu day off due to the snow but we started week four early on the Sunday with a free sail day. I got to go in a Hartley 12 which a bit bigger than a Pico. We finished the day with the “sixth” essential of sailing and indeed a vital part of most watersports. That is of course a salmon dive. We ended the day in high spirits salmon diving off the pontoon. Week four we got to grips with Seamanship skills which focused on manoeuvres such as retrieving a man overboard, picking up a mooring and coming alongside. With all these areas we had to consider the impact of the wind and tide on our boats. It was quite challenging, especially seeing as we are still novice sailors.  However, it was good to push ourselves and despite some frustrations we all managed to pick them with varying levels of finesse. During week four we were also given some homework to complete in preparation for our Dinghy Instructor course. It was the RYA Safe and Fun Safeguarding course and Essential Navigation. On the social front we went to see Marvel’s Black Panther this week. Awesome film!

 

Progress:

These two weeks I feel I have steadily improved in most areas - my general sailing ability as well gaining more confidence sailing in a single hander. The theory side is coming along side and the terminology is starting to sink in!

Challenges/stuff to work on: 

Perhaps a continuing theme for me is finesse.  Hard for a speed junkie such a myself but I must resist my need for speed. It’s not a sea battle and I’m not Lord Nelson. I’ve been exhausted these two weeks especially and I’ve been advised to perhaps save some energy and throttle back on my intensity during sail sessions. I was flat on my back come Friday afternoon of week four. In a similar vein, my back has been playing up which is an old rugby related injury, but some daily personal stretches have been helping. My mind is willing but the body is creaking a little bit.

Highlight of the weeks:

Before the Beast from the East really took hold, we got to experience the rare experience of sailing whilst the snow pelted down. It was surreal but a beautiful sight.

Read the third installment of Stephen's adventures, coming soon....

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