Trophy for youngest race crew (despite older sea staff)

Newsletter

OYT South bulletin 22nd July 2005

Urgent notices

Tall Ships crew berths
Just two spaces left for race two: 27 Jul – 5 Aug, Newcastle to Fredrikstad, £585 (age 16-25). If you would love to come but really cannot afford it, call the office on 0870 241 2252 and ask if there is any bursary money left.

Adult voyages
We have a number of spaces available on adult voyages in September, as follows:
12-16 September, Southampton, £200
16-18 September, Southampton, £100
Both trips were designed for staff training – both for existing sea staff, and for potential staff who want to come along and find out more about how we work. But they are also open to any adults who want a chance to sail on the boat – including supporters who don’t wish to be sea staff but who might like an adults-only trip; or parents, group leaders etc of previous crew members; or crew members over the age of 16 who want to improve their sailing skills and perhaps see whether they might have the potential to become a bosun or watchleader. 12-16 September in particular could do with a few more people – email me or call 07986 354697 to find out more.

Overseas crew members (and maybe some spaces for British crew)
We might still have a couple of spaces left on a trip primarily aimed crew members from overseas: 3rd-8th September, Southampton, age range 15-25, subsidised by an international crew donation so it will cost just £150 per head. Priority to non-British crew but if people from this country apply, they are eligible for any remaining spaces.

Southampton Boat Show
Volunteers needed for the OYT South stand at the Boat Show from 16-25 September. Spend a few hours helping out and then get a chance to look round the rest of this spectacular event. If you can spare any time to come along, call David Salmon on 0870 241 2252 or email office@oytsouth.org.

Motivation section!
Here’s something for all OYT South sea staff, volunteers, paid staff, supporters and donors to make you feel good about what you do. It’s an extract from a letter written to us by a girl who has just completed one of this summer’s bursary-funded trips. She was awarded the trip after making enormous strides in overcoming the effects of a traumatic early life.

This is what she wrote:

“I can honestly say that it’s been one of the most challenging experiences yet; however, I have taken so much from this trip and I will never forget it. The things that I’ve seen and done are way beyond anything I could have ever thought possible. I always as a child dreamt of doing things just like normal people did, but never thought it would happen. This was way beyond anything I could imagine and has touched my life in so many different aspects; and for that I cannot thank you enough. I feel that this is the start to many endless opportunities for my future. You are all very special people who have more than likely touched the lives of many more people such as myself.” 

Voyage news
Lots to report on as there have been no bulletins while I was away sailing!

Step one was to get John Laing from Portsmouth to Waterford for the start of the Tall Ships Race. We had high hopes of this delivery voyage – a possible stop in the Scillies, perhaps? In the end, the weather was against us; we managed a brief stay in Cowes while we waited for a favourable tide; but the next halt was at anchor in Dunmmore East just before making our way up to Waterford. We had to motor all the way along the south coast of England, and only got a decent sailing breeze after we turned right beyond Land’s End. However, the crew took this in their stride and coped admirably. It was a real mixed crew – some experienced sailors, some complete novices, and four Canadians from a Canadian sail training ship which works in the lakes. Sea staff were relief skipper Martin Clough plus Caz, Andy Royse, Trevor Hewson, Craig and Gizmo.

On arrival in Waterford, the crew threw themselves into Tall Ships festival activities with great gusto. We all got a chance to see the other boats and get to know their crews, and there were some great parties. One of the many highlights was the crew parade through the town. It is traditional for crew members to dress up for this parade. Though all the naval cadet ships send their crews out in uniform, dressing up for the less formal boats can mean almost anything. In John Laing’s case, it meant an assortment of items from our costume wardrobe (a bin-liner of odds and ends which is normally stuffed into a cupboard). Star of the show was crew member Tim, who went out in a blonde wig and tiara, and a dress with two huge balloons stuffed down the front. In this guise he ended up flirting with the mayor of Waterford and having his picture taken for the papers.

Almost all of this crew stayed on for the next voyage, Tall Ships Race 1 from Waterford to Cherbourg. Martin, Andy and Trevor had to leave; but skipper Wolf returned, along with Special K and Alice. Very sadly, Andy Haynes, who was due to be one of the second mates, was stuck in the UK completing his jury service and was unable to join – but, as will be seen later, this did at least do us an unexpected favour….

The race start day dawned utterly windless, and the fleet headed out into the bay for a parade of sail in mirror-calm waters. Skipper Wolf decided this was a great opportunity to play mind-games with the other boats, so we did the parade under bright orange storm jib and trysail, motoring through the fleet calling out “Haven’t you heard the forecast?” It quickly became clear that a race start with no wind at all was impossible, and the OYT contingent (John Laing, plus Lord Rank from Ireland and Alba Venturer from Scotland) prepared for an overnight delay by rafting up at anchor in preparation for a social evening. No sooner had we done this than the race organisers announced that they had decided that the whole fleet should motor for 70 miles overnight to the first waypoint, and the race would start from there on the next day. The night was quite spectacular as we motored under clear starry skies with the lights of dozens of vessels visible all around.

The morning produced marginally more wind and the race eventually got going. The class A ships (big square riggers) start first, followed by class B (smaller traditional vessels) and then class C (modern yachts like us). Owing to some superb tactical manoeuvring by skipper Wolf, we made a near-perfect start, and were one of the first class C boats over the line. However with minimal breeze and a course which took us dead downwind, the race conditions were never going to be right for a heavy steel boat like John Laing. A few of the lighter plastic boats went forging ahead, but to our surprise we found that we were holding our own against a surprising number of other yachts, as we tried every possible sail plan to gain that elusive extra 0.1 of a knot!

The next day saw us barely drifting along, which gave the team an opportunity to relax from the rigours of racing and throw a surprise birthday party for me, complete with apple-bobbing (in buckets of salt water); pass-the-parcel (maybe we should have a proper parcel next time, Wolf – this one was disgusting); and the highlight: Pin the tusk on the Walrus! Also a spectacular cake made by crew member Katrina and decorated with chocolate buttons and Haribo sweets.

By evening, along with several other boats, we were approaching the next waypoint, and there was some close-quarters sailing as a number of us rounded the mark together. This didn’t stop Offshore Scout from trying a water fight with us, using a high-velocity catapult for their water balloons. Water fights had been a feature of our race – before the start we had a fight with square rigger Tenacious (whose staff included one of our occasional relief skippers, Steve Furniss). We lost comprehensively as it is a great deal easier to drop balloons down from the deck of a square rigger than it is to throw them accurately upwards. This merely taught us to pick on someone our own size and we went on to thrash Lord Rank, largely by means of going alongside with our fenders ready and depositing Craig in their cockpit with a supersoaker before they realised quite what was happening. The remaining quiet moments of the race saw Craig design and build an immense crossbow for future battles. If I tried to describe how far it could fire, you would not believe me….

Anyway, we rounded the waypoint, set our sails for the new course, and to our immense delight found ourselves rapidly drawing away from everyone else in the area. As the night went on, the wind got up and finally we enjoyed some great sailing, romping along at nine knots. Sadly, unknown to us, the boats at the front of the fleet had fallen into another calm; while those at the back still had no wind either. So the radio message came through: the race was to be cut short; everyone to radio in their latitude and longitude at 0445 and the finishing positions would be calculated from that. Once the positions were in, there was a long wait while the handicaps were applied and the calculations completed. No chance of triumph for John Laing in those conditions, but we had high hopes for our friends in the other two, much lighter, OYT boats. And the news could not have been better: first in class C, Lord Rank (guest starring none other than our own Dinghy Boy as second mate); second in class C, Alba Venturer. We finished a thoroughly respectable 16th in class (out of 23) and 48th overall (out of 65) – ahead of many vessels who would have expected to do better than us.

The race over, we were now allowed to start our engines, and we set off for Cherbourg as fast as we could go. A few hours on a buoy in the outer harbour, a quick refuelling stop, and then the first lock-in to the inner harbour – where John Laing was the first boat in. Cherbourg put on a great festival for the fleet, and crew and sea staff were kept busy and entertained for days. Each boat is allocated a local liaison officer to solve problems, answer questions and translate where necessary. We owe special thanks to our liaison officer Ann-Marie, who really went out of her way to make our stay as smooth as possible.

One of the big events in harbour was the prize-giving which followed the crew parade. We were all set to go along to cheer for Lord Rank and Alba Venturer, when an envelope was delivered: “You have won a prize. There will be spaces for the skipper plus one crew member to sit at the front ready to collect your award.” We had no idea what this might mean, but Wolf (and the chosen crew member, Canadian Mark) were hustled to the front before a crowd of literally thousands, overflowing the main square on every side. To be fair, they didn’t look as nervous as Lord Rank’s skipper Dougie, who was wearing a kilt and dreading the possibility of an inopportune breeze which would have left him displaying more than one trophy to the crowd.

Our mystery trophy turned out to be for the boat racing with the youngest average age for those on board: including both crew and sea staff, we averaged just 20 years and a few months. So thanks very much to Andy Haynes, whose presence if not held back on jury service would have lifted our average age just very slightly and might have lost us the prize!

We enjoyed our usual share of thrills and dramas while in Cherbourg. One of the most exciting was that our staff bosun Princess Craig received a call from his girlfriend Jo, working in the Caribbean: there was an urgent need for skippers and mates to work out there for the next few weeks, and could he go? A flurry of phone calls proved that it was possible, so Craig has taken seven weeks unpaid leave and was on a plane within a couple of days. Thanks very much in advance to a selection of relief bosuns who have agreed to step in at short notice and keep John Laing staffed. And Craig will doubtless come back with invaluable experience which will certainly benefit him and hopefully us as well.

A big crew change last weekend brought an end to that stage of the trip; and a new crew are currently enjoying a cruise in company with the rest of the fleet, making their way towards Newcastle. Seas staff at the moment are Wolf, Graeme Cole, Steve and Cathy Lacey (Cathy doing her 2M assessment), Jonny Holman and Gizmo. They are at sea as I write and out of telephone range, so news and gossip next week.

Sea staff vacancies

First mates still needed for: 12-16 Sept (adult familiarisation voyage); 19-23 Sept; 24-30 Sept; 15-20 Oct; 26-31 Oct; 1-5 Nov.

Second mates needed for: 12-16 Sept (adult fam voyage); 26-31 Oct; 1-5 Nov.

Third mates needed for 3-8 Sept; 10-11 Sept (this is a marketing weekend so could just involve showing people round the boat in harbour – but we might use it for day sails and so would need mates on board); 16-18 Sept (mates’ training).

Email me or call 07986 354697 if you can help!

Don’t forget that other sea staff, prospective sea staff and any other adults just interested in finding out how we work can book on the familiarisation (or re-familiarisation) voyage 12-16 September (£200); and there may just be a space or two on the mates’ training weekend 16-18 Sept (£100).

Crew bookings

Current vacancies as follows:

JL05-31: 9 nights, 27 Jul – 5 Aug, Newcastle to Fredrikstad, £585 (age 16-25) – 2 berths left
JL05-37: 5 nights, 3-8 September, Southampton, £150 – a few berths left
JL05-40: 4 nights, 12-16 Sept, Southampton, £200 – several spaces (adults 16+ only)
JL05-41: 2 nights, 16-18 Sept, Southampton, £100 – a few spaces (adults 16+ only)
JL05-42: 4 nights, 19-23 Sep, Southampton, £220 – 4 berths left
JL05-47: 4 nights, 10-14 Oct, Southampton, £210 (whole boat group booking available)
JL05-48: 5 nights, 15-20 Oct, Southampton, £225 (whole boat group booking available)
JL05-49: 4 nights, 21-25 Oct, Southampton, £200 – 6 berths left
JL05-51: 4 nights, 1-5 Nov, Southampton, £160 -11 berths left

For information on latest vacancies, please contact the office on 0870 241 2252, or email office@oytsouth.org.

We are now taking bookings on the 2006 programme, also available from the office, or on the website at www.oytsouth.org.

Dates for your diaries

Thurs 11th August: John Laing maintenance day in Bremerhaven.

10th and 11th September: more John Laing Open Days.

Friday 16th Sept: OYT South annual dinner, Royal Southern YC, Hamble, held jointly with two local children’s hospices. Tickets £65 each.

16th – 25th September: Southampton Boat Show: volunteers needed for the OYT South stand.

Saturday 1st October: John Laing maintenance day, Southampton (call Wolf 07771 771864).

Saturday 5th November: End of season party and possible other weekend activities tbc. Individuals welcome aged 18+; crew members under 18 who have sailed this year and would like to keep in touch are welcome to come to the weekend with a parent or group leader.

For more information on any of this, email me or contact the office on 0870 241 2252, office@oytsouth.org.

Don’t forget the OYT South link to Amazon!
At the bottom of the OYT South home page (http://www.oytsouth.org/) is a link to Amazon. Use this link whenever you order anything from Amazon and they will give a percentage of the price to OYT South funds.

 Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.



“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16

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