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Solent sail training

On Sunday 10 April, the School’s sailors began their annual adventure on the Donald Searle, a 75’ oceangoing twin-masted yacht, covering 197 nautical miles around the south coast.

With food stowed, safety checks and briefing done the skipper announced that the crew would be making for Cowes, ahead of a gale (F7) moving in from the South West! Through driving rain and a rough sea both the starboard and port watches were outstanding. There was no choice for the crew but to find their sea legs quickly, before arriving in Cowes at 7.00pm.

Aaron Mooney, teacher at St John’s and the School’s master of sailing, reports on the rest of the trip:

DAY 2: Our intention on day two was to make for Poole. After a series of 'man-over-board' exercises, sail changes, helming, knots, and safety manoeuvres we set sail. Throughout the journey the crew completed the log, took charge of the sail setting and learned how to trim. Winds were westerly and progress was through many tacks. By lunchtime the inclement weather had cleared to blue skies.

DAY 3: Briefed at breakfast the skipper informed us that we would head for Lulworth Cove and on to Weymouth. We left Poole harbour in thick fog, with visible distance of less than 50m. Progress was painfully slow across the south coast. The crew would use the light sailing conditions to develop their skills on knots, navigation and of course cleaning the heads!!

DAY4: Winds were light and southerly. The plan for the day - make for Swanage and drop the anchor, unload one dinghy and learn to row. Knots were to be tested and the two watches would be pitted against each other. After a roast lamb supper we slipped anchor and made for Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight for the evening, a night sail and mooring.

DAY 5: The morning briefing outlined our intention to sail across the Solent to the east and try to pick up better wind. After an hour or so the southerly winds built and finally we could see the yacht in action, heeling over at 30 degrees we flew main, mizzen, No.2 jib and foresail. We were shooting along - we could see BAR Racing America's Cup boat (Ben Ainsley) 50m to our starboard side and he gave us a fly-by, it was spectacular. We arrived at Haslar marina in the late afternoon and settled down to a roast meal and lots of treats.

DAY 6: The morning briefing was to shake the boat down. When this was finished all the crews gear was to stowed. We slipped our lines at Haslar around 0.900 and make our last leg up the Hamble for International Dock, but before we did this we pushed the Searle and flew all the sail she could manage.”

After truly dreadful conditions on the first day of sailing, the crew dug deep and clubbed together for a great week. The School congratulates the eight pupils who managed to win a Scott, and Miss Ball for winning the Lord Amory award for ‘giving of their best’.

Further images are available in the Sail training 2016 photo gallery.

Published on 06/05/2016

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