I was out walking in Bourne End last week while in the UK, and I was surprised to see a clutch of OK dinghies – 4m sailing dinghies – sitting on the grass by the Thames. This is a boat I used to sail when I was a teenager in New Zealand. It’s a single-hander, quite challenging, and lots of fun. Standing around were a group of people with name tags. It turns out this was the official 50th birthday party of the boat!
I gate-crashed the party, and secured an invitation to sail in an informal race as a result of the kindness of one of the sailors there. After rushing away and borrowing some clothes I came back and with some trepidation launched myself into the river. The thing about these boats is that the boom comes very low – in my old boat it would actually touch the deck. The implication of this is that you need to be flexible and quick to avoid cracking yourself with the boom, or getting it caught on your head or life jacket – usually with disastrous consequences.
I discovered that while I could still sail the boat, I am far from competitive, and made a rash of mistakes that led to a less than stellar result in the race. Still, I beat a number of people, including a few who sail those boats regularly at that club, so not too bad, I guess. And I should mention perhaps that a few of the sailors are in the top 100 worldwide, so I think I did OK. To my chagrin I found that after the race was over, and the boat returned to its owner, I was so stiff and sore I could hardly walk! But it was well worth it, and a serendipitous pleasure on the last day of my trip to the UK.
…I should point out that the picture above is not of me…but I may be somewhere in this one which was taken on the day, prior to the rather messy start of our race.