By Aoise Ryan

TSPS inaugural ladies sail training day took place yesterday, lead by Sveta. This was a trial run to ensure an all ladies beginner crew could manage the rope pulling and commanding so often left to the men. (The ladies don’t usually highlight this deviousness but you are all now in the know)!  Sveta’s additional crew were 4 beginners and 1 experienced sailor. Predicted conditions were ideal and sailing until after 1400h proved magnificent, with lots of trust building through individual helming practice, a few drills, great breeze, controlled keeling and a firm decision that ‘ladies at the helm’ is the way to go!

At 1430h someone commented on the apocalyptic sky approaching from Enoshima.  Another double checked weather apps but predicted conditions were unchanged. The two did not tally! 

Seconds later thunder rolled and the sparkling day turned very dark. The wind immediately went from a lulling 10 knots to a constant 25-30 knots, with hail, thunder, lightening, manic black waves and zero visibility. 2 crew raced to remove the jib as a third started the engine and commandeered the main sail down. A swirling wind added to complexities for a while.

Two thirds of the crew were beginners, meaning instructions had to be concise and constantly monitored; most crucially that locking a cleat didn’t mean releasing it; that someone falling beneath a lowering boom (talking and unhurt) did not require as critical attention as getting the sail fully down; that flapping sheets did not need pulling and that donning waterproofs was low on the action list for immediate survival. Absolute teamwork ensured success. 

With sails down, visibility was still zero and direction was tough to control, even under motor. 

This outstanding crew proved highly dynamic and showed that calm decisions and directions can accomplish rough and unpredicted situations, even with beginners, as long as they trust the person in charge. 

Thunder was still pounding as the boat approached port.  Within the hour, the day returned to its earlier demeanor and all doubted their recent experience. A final flash of lightningput to bed any doubts that the storm had been imagined. Adrenalin was sky high by the end of the day and these ladies bonded for life. 

Happy to report – no injuries, no loss of confidence, no boat damage but someone saw rods flying through the sky at one point and wondered what they were? Oh! That would be the four (yes, all four) battens flying to the heavens in their glorious bid farewell. A minor tip from this adventure…. The Yamaha 30 battens are not designed to stay in flapping sails. They need to design a safety mechanism such as a folded or angled pocket, velcro or a piece of string. Anyone who is sensitive to having ever lost a Hayama batten – it’s a design fault!

These 4 beginner sailors come highly recommended as quick learners, practical people and great company.  Hoping they don’t expect too much further excitement on their next sail! 

Go Team Sveta!

(Sveta, Aoise, Juliana, Elvira, Jenine and Tracey)

Photos taken by Elvira Belyaeva

One thought on “WOMEN AT THE HELM

  1. Sailing experience with a side of creative writing!
    Another double helping, please!

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