by Ainsley MacLaren
Early on Sunday morning, just as the rain stopped and the sun started to come out, a group of 12 of our Laser sailors arrived at the Clubhouse to participate in the second of the Laser “B” Team training session. Sunday’s session was lead by our own Jim Sinclair and Robbie Lawson, ably assisted by Martin Baillie and Ben Hay on safety.
The age range and experience level of the group was wide. For some, it was the first time out on the water in a couple of years. The objectives of the day were threefold, to improve our sailing, to have some fun, and to eat tea and cake. At least, those were the sailors objectives, Jim had other plans.
Our briefing in the Sail Loft was to get ready and launched as soon as possible and meet at the start line. Our instructions were then to sail in a line on a beam reach, harden up on the whistle and then tack every time Robbie blew the whistle. Oh, and to take a deep breath and relax every time before we tacked. Similar instructions were given for the downwind leg. Well, that seemed straightforward enough…...Suffice to say we all had fun, even if the exercises were not completed entirely as Jim had hoped.
A return to shore for lunch in the wet lecture room with the members of the “A” team and lots of tea and cake.
After lunch, another quick briefing session the abiding memory of which is of Jim doing physical impressions of a tell-tale (really!). Then out to a full bay to play some games and improve our close quarter sailing technique. At least, that was the idea. Adding a small round football for the purpose of playing dinghy netball to the mix seemed to put all thoughts of sailing out of our heads. We returned to shore as the wind picked up and the mist closed in, having indeed had fun.
The day rounded off with a de-brief, and you guessed it, more tea and cake!
Thanks to everyone who ran the session and to all those who took part.
Coaching day for the Laser ‘B’ team*
by Fiona Nightingale
The ‘B’ Team included a mix of 12 ELYC’s Laser sailors, including some fairly new to Laser sailing, recent returners, new club members with less experience of sailing on the sea (let alone with a hearty North Berwick swell), and those seeking to better their sailing through a class-specific training opportunity.
During an introductory session in the Sail Loft (nice gentle start to a Sunday morning, thank you John) John Wilcox gave the group a couple of key points to consider, which at the outset seemed simple enough, but as the day went on and we took our learning afloat further discussion and on-the-water tuition added breadth and depth to those points.
A lunch of hot soup and filled rolls prepared by Catrina followed by mounds of cake provided by Alison and Emily gave everybody their second wind and we headed out for two races in the afternoon. I definitely heard it suggested sotto voce that providing an abundance of cake was a deliberate ploy to sabotage the competition via excessive carb intake!
The sea state had kept most of us on our toes in the morning and now the swell picked up not allowing anybody to rest on their laurels. Our start line could be described as either ‘competitive close-quarters sailing’ or ‘mayhem’ depending on one’s position as they crossed the line however, we all made it round the course with the honours being shared after two races. At the final debrief there was no hiding from the video evidence which illustrated both sailing idiosyncrasies and new-found skills, reinforcing the key points John had returned to throughout the day.
*The ‘B’ team was undoubtedly the blossoming team. We banked new knowledge; our skill-levels burgeoned; our sailing became bolder; we came off the water buoyant, beaming and full of baking…. followed by bonding and banter in the bar.
Brimming with excitement for part 2 in October!
A huge thank you to John and David for giving up an entire day to coach other club members and to Jeanette, Harry and Andrew for assisting. It was a braw day.
Old Dogs, Young Pups, New Tricks
By Bruce Millar
In collaboration with the UKLA, East Lothian Yacht Club were lucky enough to secure a day of Jamie Calder's time to come along and coach some of our Laser/ILCA sailors.
Jamie has a number of sailing accolades to his name already, including winning the RYA Youths is his Laser Radial in 2016. More recently he finished 3rd at the recent ELYC hosted RS400 Nationals, and that's to name just a couple of highs. When the opportunity comes along to learn from these guys, you must take it!
Nick, Emily, Alistair and myself did just that and in the early hours of Sunday morning we headed to the club to get our boats ready, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the man with the skills to convert the four of us into world beaters.
Upon my arrival, early signs of us reaching world beating level were not good, as I discovered Nick slouched on the bench outside the club. Clutching a can of Irn Bru and looking worse for wear, it was easy to jump to the wrong conclusion. Had he enrolled in the Tennent's School of Physical Training? Thankfully, he hadn’t been on the lash the night before. He had however, just cycled down from Edinburgh and was embracing the healing properties of Scotland’s other “Water of Life”. Good warm up Nick, well done.
Having helped Nick up off the hangover bench, we filed into the wet lecture room to meet Jamie for a briefing and discussion about what the day would hold. It's easy to feel a little anxious at these sorts of events if you aren't used to them, like me. It probably comes from not wanting to make a fool of oneself. Leave these fears on the quayside because nobody is judging and everyone wants to help. A good coach will very quickly help a group relax and with some light-hearted banter and getting-to-know-you chat, Jamie did just that.
We were asked about our experience levels and what specifically we would like to get from the day's coaching. "Make me go faster" is always a common theme but because we sail at North Berwick, "wave technique" was a topic which came up quickly!
Jamie asked us all to think about the key aspects of the two common sailing maneuvers, namely tacking and gybing and the processes we go through during each. I have to be honest, I struggle to describe to someone the specifics of what I tend to do during these moves, if asked. No doubt it involves lots of bad habits, some muscle memory and the occasional lord's prayer position when it goes wrong.
There were a number of key aspects which Jamie bullet-pointed for us as they came up in conversation. When tacking, keeping the mainsheet block to block throughout was highlighted as key. When gybing, 3 big handfuls of mainsheet to encourage the sail over early, was the order of the day.
With lots more listed on the whiteboard we were advised to pick just one or two points to work on during the morning session. For me, it was the block to block aspect that was of interest. However, as I hobble into the throws of middle age, I could immediately see a couple of issues with this approach. First of all, the boat is likely to spin through the tack faster. This is a good thing and very much the aim. But in turn, this means I also need to be faster across the boat. I refer you to my previous middle-aged statement.
The second issue I could see was the height of the boom when sheeted block to block. It's quite low. No problem for young pups like Emily or Alistair, I'm sure. I won't speak for Nick, (too late) but how would I get under it at a quicker pace than normal? I'm not known for my limbo. However, Jamie to the rescue. He expertly described the moves and positions to follow to get under a low boom, aided by some great action shots of Tom Slingsby (Aussie Olympic Gold Medalist) in mid-tack. I won't go into too much detail but it involves, obviously, getting very low, stretching and swiveling. I probably looked perplexed as I considered the fact that not even my neck swivels these days. All that being said I took the approach of trying to forget what I thought I knew and would try to start afresh. So off we went to try it in anger.
The format the sessions took were excellent. Jamie would slowly motor the RIB forwards while we formed up in a line astern, at an angle well below close hauled, sails flapping as if lining up for a start. A 3 second countdown, sheet in and head up wind. When the whistle blows, tack. What this allows Jamie to do is get behind each boat and take video footage of each sailor as they go through the maneuvers. An exceptionally useful thing to see played back. After five tacks we would reset and repeat. It's amazing how much this gets the heart rate up. As club racers we are sometimes guilty of tacking for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes it’s just for a rest! Here, there was no argument to be had and while the goal was always to execute a tack which involved the aspects you wanted to focus on, it was never necessary to crash into a tack simply because the whistle blew. Take your time, think about it and focus on what you're trying to improve. I must admit to capsizing upwind during a tack but I almost take that as a positive as I was trying hard to do things using the prescribed method, rather than my previous age-appropriate tacking style. It was bound to end in a wobble at some point.
Rinse and repeat downwind for the gybing sessions. Line up astern, 3 second countdown but this time head downwind on the whistle. Gybe on subsequent whistles. Once again there were key items to focus on, once again Jamie would capture footage of us in all our glory and once again, I capsized. But if you don't capsize you aren't trying hard enough. Said nobody, ever.
We broke for lunch and for me this was a real highlight. Not because my tummy thought my throat had been cut, but because there was a 12 strong group of club Laser sailors also being treated to some internal coaching from a team led by John Wilcox. We all gathered for lunch and to have 16 club laser sailors gathered in the wet lecture room refueling on soup, bacon rolls and cake, all the while talking about their morning entertainment, was a sight to behold. Happy days.
Once lunch was in the books the 12 strong group headed back out for some racing. But before the fantastic four were allowed back out Jamie took us through the footage he had captured during the morning session. It can't be overstated how useful it is to see what your maneuvers look like versus what they feel like. It's quite telling (and a wee bit disappointing when you discover you don't look anywhere near as slick as you thought). Jamie showed footage of each of us and this promoted useful discussion on what was good and perhaps not so good in each case. All focus for the next session!
The afternoon sessions followed the very same format as before and a chance to process what we had seen in the lunchtime videos, to see if we could improve. By this time the wind had shifted to the east, which provided some waves to either surf or avoid, depending on direction of travel. Jamie commented on how much fun the waves looked so I invited him to have a quick shot in my boat so he could at least claim a "I've surfed NB" t-shirt. It was nothing to do with me wanting a lie down in the RIB for a rest. This was actually a very useful few minutes for me as I followed him closely in the RIB, watching his movements as he tacked. Effortlessly, I would add and excellent to see a pro at work. Although I will refrain from mentioning the tiller drop he suffered during one tack. Oops, too late.
After another couple of upwind and downwind sessions it was safe to say that we were all starting to feel some battery drain. We were treated to a great final run home as we surfed and gybed our way towards the fairway, before meeting in the sail loft for our final video review. Improvements all round and in various different areas to boot. More importantly though, I think we all have a good idea how things should be done and how to get there. Practice, practice, practice.
To those registered or thinking about registering for the second event in October, you are in for a treat. A big thank you specifically to Jamie Calder for giving up his Sunday, sharing his wisdom and being an all round top bloke who we look forward to welcoming back to the club for the second session.
Learn to Sail Camps and Improver Courses for 11yrs-Adults @ https://elyc.org.uk/training
Have an amazing summer learning a new skill, make new friends and see the puffins on the Craigleith up close. The class this weekend was even joined by our resident dolphins for an hour or so.
Book Now Spaces Limited.
We are down to our last few spaces in this summers' Training programme, and an extra Cadet Learn to Sail week has been added due to huge demand - book now to avoid disappointment!
The available spaces are;
A hardy group of 12 sailors gathered at the second Winter Race Training on Sunday, in a bracing (though short lived) Force 3, from the East.
We briefed then headed out into a pleasant breeze, though slightly overcast. The session began with a simple windward/leeward exercise, focussing on the upwind leg, and keeping in mind the 3 key aims, designed to help us maintain speed and our position on the upwind leg;
About half an hour in, the breeze died completely. Luckily we'd managed to get in some great coaching before this and were already seeing improvements in sailing!
The breeze began to fill back in shortly after, though it was swinging from SE to SW, with no more than 5 knots. When the breeze eventually settled in the SE, the course was relaid and a start attempted, only for the wind to die completely about 30 seconds after the gun! Shortly after this, the decision was made to head back in and debrief on the beach!
While the session wasn't ideal - wholly due to the lack of breeze - there were still valuable lessons learned and everyone improved!
Thanks to everyone for coming down and to Robbie and Steven for their expertise. We look forward to seeing you again on the 13th December!
RYA Scotland Topper Academy at ELYC
If you are a cadet member and sail a topper this is a fantastic opportunity to receive excellent training!
The RYA Scotland Class Academies are designed to support sailors of all levels and ages along their sailing journey. In a non-covid scenario there would be 6 training sessions delivered over the winter by their expert coaches focusing on racing skill development, supporting sailors both new to racing and those involved in further performance programme teams. The programme brings sailors together from all over the country within an environment that offers challenge, fun and friendship but most importantly time on the water all year round.
Due to the situation we are now in, RYA Scotland are trying to reach as many clubs as they can and run a series of single sessions for club-based sailors over consecutive weeks across October. The idea being to keep sailors local to their club. These sessions will be class specific and lead by experienced RYA Scotland coaches for sailors of all abilities.
We are delighted to announce a Topper Academy consisting of 3 sessions will be run at ELYC, for members only, on the following dates:
4th October 2020 12pm to 4pm
11th October 2020 9am to 1pm
18th October 2020 12pm to 4pm
If you are a cadet member and sail a topper this is a fantastic opportunity to receive excellent training from experienced Topper Academy coaches. As said above, this is for all levels. The cost of the Academy is £60 for the series. Club toppers will be available to hire at a cost of £10 for the series.
If you would like to take part, please register. Please note by booking you are registering for all 3 sessions. You do not pay at this point, except if hiring a club boat. Further instructions regarding the event and payment will be issued once registered.
I am happy to let you all know that we will once again be running Winter Race Training this year, albeit with some changes. The on the water element of the training will be largely similar to previous years, focussing on one element per session and consolidating this through races.
The shore based elements have invariably taken a knock due to COVID. Details for this are still being finalised, but will be circulated upon booking. It is likely that the safety briefing will be a virtual one, with finer details being covered on the day. This reduces any need for unnecessary time spent ashore and as such helps us maintain our COVID security.
The dates for race training are as follows:
All sessions run from 9am -1pm with the exception of 11 October which will run from 2pm-5pm.
Booking for these sessions will open on the Monday before the event is due to take place.
Club boats will be available to hire: 4 Club Toppers, 4 Zests and 2 Club 2ks.
In addition to needing a keen group of sailors, we also need volunteers to help this event run! If you can volunteer, please do so on Dutyman.
Although the club is closed at the moment, we just wanted to let you know about an exciting new initiative we will be launching as soon as we are back sailing......
ELYC Race Squad
This squad will be open to cadet members who have progressed from Go Racing and who show:
The aim of the squad will be to:
Entry will be by application and selection. The selection dates will be announced as soon as the club opens and sailing re starts.
The squad will be restricted to a maximum of six (minimum of four) sailors meeting monthly on a Sunday for a full day's coaching by one of our members, Sam Grimshaw. Sam is a qualified RYA Race Coach and as a youth sailor was a member of a Zone Squad and competed at national and international events. Sam will also support the team at away events.
Membership of the squad will be under frequent review with the possibility to join through the year. For cadet members that don't make the squad at first there will be ample opportunity for continued development through our involvement with RYAS Development and Performance team.
The RYAS Development and Performance team fully support our initiative which is in line with their vision for youth racing and have agreed to supply additional coaches if required.
All applications are welcome and will be considered from cadets who have completed one year of Go Racing (or equivalent). Any interested cadets should complete the application from and return by 7th June 2020. We will hold an information evening as soon as the club opens but if you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
ELYC Race Squad Application Form
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Huge congratulations from everyone at ELYC to Roo Purves, who has been awarded the Class Academy Sailor of the Year award by RYA Scotland.
Roo is one of a selection of talented young sailors who have risen through the ranks in East Lothian Yacht Club's excellent sailing curriculum, which includes everything from entry level basics to a variety of coached racing sessions which provide a gateway to full on Club racing and beyond.
Roo was able to share his thoughts in a short interview.
“Amazing and quite a big surprise when my name was called out, I was quite shocked.”
“It was really cool to see my coach Robyn (Phillips) also win an award on the night.”
“It’s amazing, Topper’s are the best boats to start out in and I beat my dad for the first time last week in a club race, which was cool.”
East Lothian Yacht Club | 36-40 Victoria Road | The Harbour | North Berwick | East Lothian | EH39 4JL