Monday, 13 June 2011
Onawind Blue in Brittany
Probably as hard as any sailing trip I’ve done—given that I’m not as fit as I have been—and just as rewarding, the Semaine du Golfe was amazing.
Coming from the Mediterranean the tides at first were unnerving but as all the sailing was carefully planned around them I didn’t have to worry too much. At one point I did end up way down-tide and had a hard job of anchoring and rowing the 50 yards or so to enter the bay where the rest of the fleet picnicked on the beach.
There were other single handers and elderly ones at that, truely inspiring folk that must have known the ropes as they didn’t seem to have the organisational problems that I did, but I think it’s an event in which a crew is a benefit. Someone to be in charge of chilled beers and bus times. I spent one cold night aboard, wrapped in the mizzen sail, due to missing the bus back to the campsite at Conleau.
But those incidents are anecdotes now, just part of the adventure. The reason I still have a broad grin on my face one week after the event is due to Onawind Blue’s performance. Your boathandling skills are tested when beating up a river with 300 other boats and a fleet of 60’s cruisers charge through, and so is your boat.
OB has proven herself in a variety of conditions and I was extremely gratified to see her rise to this. I’ve never had the opportunity to compare her performance with other boats but having seen her edging up through the fleet when sailing broad and keeping up when tacking I know she has nothing to envy of other craft. And of course under oars she really flies.
One afternoon we sailed to windward in a strong breeze. Reports stated it was a force 5 gusting to 7. I didn’t really have time to study it, what with the tide, the standing waves, the packets of water in my face and all the other boats, it was just bloody windy and I was carrying too much sail. Once I’d managed to stop, get both sails double reefed and the boat properly trimmed—only half the daggerboard in the water and the mizzen just spilling, she went like a dream and I had one of the best sails of the week.
She is wet to windward no doubt about it, while others sailed in shorts and tee shirts I was in full wet weather gear, and close hauled is not her favourite point of sail—it takes concentration and careful tacking to get her upwind. But arriving damp and later than the lead boats does not constitute any great crime when weighed against her other qualities. What is more, whether labouring uphill, flying off the wind or lopsidedly beached she still has some of the sweetest lines you are likely to see.
Once again I take my hat off to the designer. Chapeau Gav!