Noble Marine Insurance sponsored Musto Skiff training at Stokes Bay with Dan Henderson
Report by Dan Vincent
The Musto Skiff Autumn training event was aimed at those sailors in their second and third seasons who had worked out how to sail their boats and were now keen on competing better at Open Meetings and Championships. Dan Henderson (Musto World Champion 2011) was lead coach and designed a series of exercises aimed at highlighting key race skills, including maintaining position on a start line, holding a lane in the early part of the first beat and faster boat handling.
On Saturday in a tricky Northerly wind, Dan directed his 7 keen students through a series of exercises and gave immediate vocal feedback as can be seen and shared on the video (https://youtu.be/TQ27H6O8SB0).
The ‘5 tack and 3 gybe’ minimum rule, proved exceptionally tricky round a tight course where laylines approached at a rate of knots. The high pressure exercises were excellent at highlighting small flaws in technique and everyone has gone away with homework and improvements to work on.
Sunday morning was brighter, and as per forecast, got progressively lighter as the stiff Northerly rapidly softened. Out early to make the most of the breeze, Coach Henderson put the team through similar paces, but with more one-on-one focus, and the ability to look at lighter wind sailing. The culmination of the weekend was all trainees joining in with the final Club race. Unfortunately, rather than being a demonstration of all they had learnt it was convincing evidence that Dan had already got the best out of them earlier with endurance, stamina and concentration compromised after eight action-packed hours on the water.
So what did we learn?
Josh Belben (375) – Has got homework to choose between dagger and pan grip during manoeuvres.
Neil Ashby (545) – very reliable, but slooow gybes – definite potential for speeding up the corners by prepping the ‘new’ kite sheet earlier.
Rich Pelley (469)– too old to learn new tricks, although could improve his tacks by reducing the initial ‘stand’ phase.
Andy Gould (531) – see above, plus be less ‘jabby’ and more progressive with the steering. Nice gybes though.
Brennan Robinson (350)- impressed with stylish trapezing and text book tacks, but learnt the value of using sufficient kicker.
Alex Sharp (186)– Learnt to ignore the mainsail and focus on the kite during the gybe, with the result that Sunday’s club race was his most competitive yet.
Gary Stones (294) -Sailed solidly throughout, but could keep boat flatter during the tacks (although that could be said of everybody).
Dan Vincent (557, but not on Saturday video because he was quaffing champagne rather than beating his brains out around a cold, grey Solent)- If you arrive late you tend to get stitched with the write-up.
Final Note: Post-event feedback with the sailors’ forum (and then wider on the Stokes Bay WhatsApp group) agreed that Josh Belben’s capsize (9:37 on video) was utterly unavoidable and no-one could have held it in that gust. Fact.
Final Final Note: Thanks to Dan Henderson (and Brennan’s brother) for giving up their time and making such an effort to improve the skills of intermediate sailors and a big thanks to Noble Marine, Musto Skiff Class Association and Stokes Bay Sailing Club for supporting this event.
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