This weekend has been long marked on the calendar. A sort of D-day if you like. Way back in the depths of winter Kathryn sensibly suggested that we plan our first event in the 29er. Something to aim for and work towards. Time has a nasty habit of marching on and you find yourself at that date quicker than you expected.
We bought the boat early January after a brief discussion in the clubhouse over a drink. The boys had been out in the Feva together and it was obvious that they gelled on the water. It was a large jump for both boys, but they both seemed hungry for a challenge.
In the early weeks, Tom was on hand to help us rig and to take the boys out. They spent more time capsizing than they did sailing. It was hard for us all. We shared many firsts, including breaking the ice on the Mere so that the boys could sail. I will never forget Kathryn and I looking at each other as we did this, wondering how our lives were changing.
One Sunday Rich turned up to the club after a spell away, full of knowledge, enthusiasm and ideas and took the boys on. That was one of our better days.
Saturday of the race dawned, we drove in convoy as the full team came to support. There's a well known African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" and it couldn't be more appropriate. So many people had helped them along the way and everyone who came had played a part in getting them to this point.
The racing was delayed as they waited for the winds to build. It was a welcome delay, as it gave us a chance to feed them before they went out and to settle our nerves. The boys as ever, were brilliant. They weren't frightened to get in the mix with older and more experienced teams. They weren't pushing the line but they sailed longer, harder and faster than that had ever done before. They proved they could do it and they came off the race course with beaming smiles.
Driving back I proudly announced how I had found the weekend relatively stress free, shared load and all that. I felt full of energy and ready for the next adventure. Oh how I was wrong, last night I had an overwhelming exhaustion sweep over me, I fear I may have been running on adrenaline all weekend and finally crashed. I crawled into bed at 9pm and slept for the next 11 hours.
I sat with my friend Kate and thanked her profusely for lending the sail. It had done the job last weekend before the disaster with the boom. I recounted the tale of the boom and showed her the pictures of the underneath of the boat. "Oh my" she exclaimed, "I think it's time for that to go to Boat Heaven". Well words of a similar effect.
Last weekend, once the tears had stopped, I needed to take stock and see what repairs needed doing. The boat was turned upside down and it appeared to be a little more broken than we had anticipated. Quite how he, not only sailed, but won, I truly don't know. I felt bad. Really bad.
Rich, as ever, was upbeat. We can fix it. Sorry, fix that?
The list of upgrades and repairs seem endless, additionally, the 29er needs new sails at an eye watering price, and then there's the Tera and the 2 Oppies that are sailing in my back garden. The boys are growing faster and improving quicker than I had envisaged and it's hard keeping pace.
However, Rich worked his magic that week and salvaged a very poorly boat. George smiled. I was speechless.
We re-launched the boat and politely asked George to be gentle with it, as he was getting a bit of a reputation.
The winds were mixed, ranging from light to rather gusty, but that is often the nature at a small pond. Racing was a welcome break from revision, exams were looming Monday morning. George was sailing well, the repairs were holding and Kate's sail was in great shape. I walked to the OD box to get a better view of the racing and catch up with friends. As they passed round the first mark we cheered and waved.
On the second lap George shouted up to the OD box "My kicker is broken". Seriously? I was beginning to wonder if Kate was right and the boat really needed to go to Boat Heaven. I walked back to the clubhouse to brace myself for the upset and busied myself by making a cup of tea and doing some unnecessary phone admin.
The race finish, he had held his position. How? We rushed up to inspect the damage. " What happened George.". "Oh the knot broke, it's ok, I've retied it".
I'm not sure how my nerves are going to hold out with this racing business, this weekend they are racing the 29er at Grafham, get the gin at the ready...
"The problem with you mum is that you are inconsistent". William boldly stated. The problem with having children is their unfailing honesty. "What do you mean?" I begged. "Well sometimes you are shockingly late and other times way too early. Sometimes you remember to do things, other times you forget. Totally inconsistent" he replied unflinchingly.
That hit hard. I don't intend to disappoint, I just find myself juggling so many things at once, sometimes something has to give. This weekend was no exception. For the 4th Saturday in a row I found myself driving down the M42 with a Tera strapped to my roof. We were heading to Barnt Green Sailing Club for the Junior Invitational Open. A great annual meet for 5 local clubs, juniors and adults alike.
We arrived on time, intact and with the requisite no of children and boats. That's 1 - nil I believe William.
The others arrived and we merrily chatted as we helped rig each other's boats. Rob kindly tweaked a few of the controls on George's pre loved laser. It does need a lot of work but it's not his main boat. Priorities and all that. He spotted that the fixing on the end of George's boom was half hanging off. It needed re-riveting but we neither had the tools or the time. We all crossed our fingers that it would hold out for the day's racing. I hoped William hadn't clocked that one.
The team had a wonderful day racing in a mixture of conditions, the fixing held and all the juniors exceeded all expectations and sailed their hearts out. George won the Gold Fleet and William won the Silver Fleet. Abi came a close 3rd much to everyone's delight. All the juniors did us proud.
Sunday took us back to Olton Mere where we had a mixture of training and racing. The comedy duo took the 29er out then raced the afternoon in their Lasers. I sailed the Vision and William was back in his Tera. It was a glorious afternoon, wonderful for the spectators. The winds picked up in the afternoon and I left George in Rich's capable hands to spend some time with Freddie who I had finally managed to drag off the tennis court.
Ping. My phone beeped. A message from Rich " You may have tears when he gets home". Ping "Broken Boom".
Oh man, in the excitement of yesterday I had totally forgotten about the boom and sent him out in heavy winds with the fixing hanging off. He arrived. Tears, floods of them. Buoyed by yesterday's success he was having the race of his life, he'd been leading, it was all going to plan. Then Bang the boom went. Bad, bad mother.
I felt dreadful. Many children have these wonderful boats and I'd failed him. William I'll hand it to you. Inconsistent.