Wednesday, 19 October 2011

We Are Sailing - Rod Stewart

After only a short wait my promised invitation from my good friend Adrian (Adi) Baker came to fruition today. Under a clear blue and cloudless sky he picked me up from my house and drove me half way along Chesil Beach, observing all the way that the weather was nowhere near good enough. Had it been any other week of the year I would likely have rounded on him, but this is World Speed Sailing Week taking place in Portland Harbour with, as the title suggests, the finest 'Speed Sailors' in the World mustered and determined to break existing records. As with many sports, nothing is simple, there being a number of categories, but to give the reader some idea of the speeds we are talking about the current 500 metre record stands at 55.65 knots (close to 64 miles per hour) while the Nautical Mile record is 50.17 knots (a fraction under 58 mph).

The World Sailing Speed Record Council
, founded in 1972, is the body authorized by the International Sailing Federation to confirm speed records of sailing crafts (boats or sailboards) on water (not on ice or land). In the early years the council only dealt with claims of speed records on a one-way leg of 500 metres. Since 1988 the WSSRC is also responsible for offshore sailing records, because there were several controversial claims about the times of long voyages.

One or more meetings were held every year and since 2001 the council has had a permanent secretariat. The members of the expert council from Australia, France, Great Britain and the USA assess record claims. Record holders and their times are listed. WSSRC also issues Performance Certificates to sailors who wish to be officially timed over accepted courses without breaking records.

Adi, a full time Paramedic, loves the sport (among many others) of Wind Surfing and is a qualified part time instructor at the Official Test Centre & Sailing School owned by fellow boarder Tristram Best attached to, but separate from, the National Sailing Academy where we arrived firstly today. Once there, I got straight among several of the worlds top performers, including Ant Baker (no relation to either of us) seated, all starring dejectedly at their wind speed indicators.

Puffed out already after the mile and a half drive from my place Adi took to the deckchair awaiting coffee.

Leaving anemometers and barographs behind, there were far more sophisticated way of predicting weather conditions, just consult the Forecasting Stone.

Under the protective cover of The Red Duster (Ensign of the Great British Mercantile Marine) stands the

but much more than this, it is also a legacy of the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games with all craft and competitors being based here, while

ALL of the sailing events will take place in the 'local waters' of Portland Harbour & Weymouth Bay. After this, the most prestigious of all world events, the buildings, facilities and adjoining acreage will become the property of the people of the United Kingdom and serve for generations to come as the 'National' Sailing Academy. Don't let me hear anyone say "what have the Olympic Games done for our Borough and Country" after seeing and reading this!

A most welcoming smile from The Receptionist as we entered the Main Building to take a look

around, firstly up the stairway leading to the lounge and viewing platform.

Next to the Cafeteria, where there was to be a huge added bonus for me

as after 6 years I met up once again with one of my longest standing friends in Weymouth and now Catering Manager, Barbara Perry who's name still hangs over one of the borough's finest restaurants, Perry's on Weymouth Quay.

Next, we visited the Check-in Tent

where all competitors have to register their intent to sail,

and in the company of many exalted members of the world's Sailing Fraternity. Here, I also met Race Officer Mark Deverell who offered me the kindest hospitality by way of an invitation to take one of the Safety Boats out to The Opus 'the' Race Officials Boat out in Portland Harbour. Unfortunately there was not time but maybe later in the week?

Here also sailors can pick up their GPS & Wind Indicator Equipment.

It is hoped to bring some more photographs to the Blog tomorrow, of a number of the strange sailing craft taking part in this event, but for now some of the other activities going on today. There were somewhere in the region of 150 children taking part in a variety of activities, but teachers were (rightly) not keen for photo to be taken. However,

these lads from Weymouth Collage were obliging while constructing their own Oil Barrel Raft.

we'll come back to these gentlemen a little later in the 'post'!

The UK crews for next year's Olympics have already been selected and here are part of Team GB launching there boats for practice runs.

The Dragon Boats await their crews as well with more photos tomorrow.

At the Academy there are also plenty of undercover stowage's, maintenance areas, offices and classrooms.

These Dutch Speed Sailors are a little late for this years event, but tell me there is enough determination and enthusiasm to get the vessel ready for next year.

'Abandon Ship' and so back to the lads from Weymouth College and I feel sure that barrel looks a little loose?

Undaunted, despite having failed with both Sheet Bend and Matthew Walker Knot, 'all hands' boarded the 'sea-worthy' craft and set off for the 'New World'!

and finally, for now at least, as I walked the Beach Road back towards Weymouth, coincidentally Adi's wife the lovely Tracey Baker, sprinted past continuing her training for the Iron Man (Woman) Competition - Good Luck Tracey!

1 comment:

  1. I fully support what you say about the National Sailing Academy Paul.
    I bet the residents of Upwey are quite pleased as well, now that they don't suffer "Wall to Wall" traffic throughout the summer (in more recent times all the year around). Also on the last leg of my infrequent 200 mile trip I can get from Dorchester to Weymouth without an overnight stop.{:)