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My First Advanced Dinghy Class
The first class was last Monday (after the time change), and it will run through September with a couple of holiday exceptions from 6 pm to sunset. Jennifer Kroon is organizing this and occasionally teaching, as she did in the first class.
We had 7 boats and 14 sailors. We did what Jennifer called warming up on our sailing skills. We were going to do a version of Ultimate Frisbee on the water, but the frisbee didn't float, so we did other things. We sailed several courses around 4 buoys (the goals for the Ultimate Frisbee) in a line (one boat after the other, a boat-length between each and the one following). Sounds easy, right? Not so easy with crews of different skills. So the lead boat can't get too far ahead, and the other boats have to do what they can to catch up. And sometimes the instructions aren't so clear, so there's a built-in chaos. And then the lead boat is told to set whatever course they want, and the other boats have to follow. Preferably doing a lot of tacks/jibes.
The theme of the exercise was right-of-way. In this relatively simple exercise, right-of-way situations are set up, and you have to deal with them. I failed on this. I was on starboard tack going into two boats, one on either side, both on port tack, and one on a collision course. I had no room to maneuver. I called "starboard", but the other boat didn't respond as quickly as I might have liked, so I moved to avoid him. The classic mistake. We both moved first one way then the other trying to avoid each other and eventually collided. I can't count how many times I've described this situation to my sailing students and how to deal with it, but when it happened to me, I punted. There's an Italian expression that describes this "tra il dire e il fare c'è di mezzo il mare" which basically means “it's one thing to say it, and another thing to actually do it.” A learning experience, which is why we're all here.
Even these relatively simple exercises are much more difficult than anything you would do on your own, so they really hone your skills.
Jennifer talked a bit about the class. It's not going to get you to Senior by itself, but it's going to help you get there by improving your skills. She talked about the Senior test and the importance of judgement. Think about how you would handle an unconscious man overboard. There is no right answer, but there are wrong answers.
I was really impressed by the teamwork of the students. Everybody was helping everyone else launch the boats and clean up afterwards. In the discussion afterwards, Jennifer said that the rule was nobody goes on the water until everyone's ready, and nobody leaves/gets changed until everyone's off the water. I don't think she needed to say that – that's CSC.