Fig. 1 Wind and weather chart courtesy of WindGuru for Seaford Bay, August 25th
- Wind Speed (Beaufort Scale)
- Wind Gust Speed
- Wind Direction
- Wind Direction
- Cloud cover and forecast density at various descending levels (High to low)
- Forecast precipitation in millimeters
Stars - the degree to which those who love strong winds will love it. Three stars is an unmissable opportunity for windsurfers and kite-boards.
Too wet, too windy - but perfect for the diehard windsurfer or kiteboarder: I'm neither. I'll be standing on the shore looking at the waves breaking on the beach in an hour or so. The sailing club's Race Officer will decide if sailing is on or not. The serious issue is if we start a race heavy weather could make bringing dinghies in treacherous. If it goes ahead, as Saturday, I will be drenched to the skin helming the safety boat - a RIB we bring out of Newhaven Harbour.
Lessons learnt lately?
The opportunity to improve sailing skills is made all the more swift courtesy of downloadable eBooks and YouTube. After earlier trials inland on a lake yesterday became my first outing helming a dinghy on the sea, and my first race - we had three. Before I took to the water I checked a few items off from a guide to dinghy sailing and at lunch I followed up further tips on YouTube. Is there a limit to what the Internet can tell or show you? The list of tips and insights given by fellow sailors would be long: fixing bits of the boat, getting it off the trolley and into the ocean ... getting it back.
Late onto the water I was a good 30 seconds off the start of the race and never made it up in the Club Laser. The second race I was in the thick of it as 22 dinghies josled for position - two years of crewing a Fireball payed off and sneakily I managed to be one of the first Lasers into this race and for the first lap of three led the fleet - it felt like by some fluke I'd got around the first lap of a F1 Grand Prix in a Citreon 2CV. Staying upright is about as far as my skills go for now. The third race was scuppered from the start as the tiller handle came off; this might be like a fisherman dropping his rod in the water and having to resort to a hand-line ... or a jokey losing his stirrups at the start of a race ... or doing a cycle race without any handlebars: sort of.
However, it is remarkable what you learn and how much more you learn in adverse conditions. My 'skills' have been plagued for weeks by my a clumsy swapping of hands when you tack between the mainsheet and the tiller, every time you tack your hands have to swap duties, the lead hand taking the rope on the mainsail (main sheet), the rear hand taking the tiller ... well, my tiller-handle was gone, which turned every tack into a drill. It worked. I'd liken it to any sports coach giving competitors a challenge in order to fix a problem, or to speed up 'adaptation'.
Trial and error, mistakes, dealing with the unexpected and a challenge ... being pushed. Learning works best when it is anything but 'plain sailing' - we learn so much from mistakes, from figuring things out, by asking for help ... and giving help in turn. How do we keep the human context alive in e-learning? Are we not like astronauts on a lone mission a million miles from earth?