A very different race this year to the two previous races in that there was plenty of wind and at times almost too much.
As usual, the pupils and some staff stayed aboard Moonbeam on Friday night, sharing a meal and camaraderie together. Cameron stated that the showers in the marina were the best he had ever experienced. The Deputy Head joined us as the night supervisor, adding to the atmosphere and giving the boys the chance to show off their knowledge.
It was a pleasure to welcome Euen back to school to take part, despite having officially completed his secondary education with us. He has sailed at home but has always been reluctant to sail with school. I persuaded him to come out on Moonbeam for the first time in May this year and he was so taken with the experience that he soon asked if he could join the race. He took his turn at the helm during the race but it is his calm personality and gentle humour that made him such an asset to the team.
We competed with a young or novice crew, Jay being the only pupil with any real experience. Having said that, his knowledge, skill and timing when handling the large genoa through a tack, gave the younger crewmembers and I considerable confidence. He doesn’t realise, because of his own insecurities, that he is a very good teacher and coach and he guided the others so that our tacking throughout the race was always of a very high standard.
The first half of the race down to the Needles and round to St Catherine’s point was all hard on the wind, which the boys coped admirably with. Greg, who is only year 7, made a little nest down below for himself once we had rounded the Needles and slept soundly for almost 2 hours. When he reappeared on deck, I asked if he felt better to which replied, “Yes!” with a broad smile. He has a natural ability on the helm so once rested and in the clearer waters round the back of the Wight, he stood his watch, turning the heads of the other yachts that such a diminutive character should be so competently in charge.
Cameron last sailed aboard Moonbeam in January 2020 but his impulsive behaviour was difficult to manage and his constant fiddling with things on board presented a risk to safety. Since then we have talked often about sailing and he has made a considerable effort to control his impulsivity, so earlier this year I asked him if he thought he was ready to come sailing again. He is a very talented young man who learns practical skills incredibly quickly so he became my ‘go to’ guy in all the challenging situations. He thoroughly enjoyed the race and was really good fun all day. To see him walking down the corridor on Monday morning with that ‘ten feet tall’ look about him, filled me with pride.
I try to keep out of the main fray to avoid the cut and thrust of close racing, which did result in us traveling almost 60 miles on what is only a 51-mile race for boats that remain close inshore. Most sailors are polite and considerate but we did still encounter two instances of ungentlemanly conduct during the course of the day. When we were close to the finish line, it gave the boys considerable pleasure to point out the boats in question as we out-sailed both of them to finish ahead.
The day was a huge success, the boys had a fantastic time and built memories that I am sure they will cherish for the rest of their lives. The staff team worked together tirelessly to support me and to ensure that our pupils had the best experience possible. After such a challenging year, it was for all of us, a real highlight.
Raymarine Young sailor: 4th out of 10
Division 7D: 14th out of 52
Class 7: 28th out of 133
ISCRS (cruising yachts): 78th out of 584
Overall (estimate): 163rd out of 942
Mr Mark Holmes
Head of Design Technology
St Edward's School - Hampshire