My inability to say no often catches me out. So when Rich suggested we take the Olton Mere Youth to the Draycote Laser Open in October, I wholeheartedly agreed it was a brilliant idea.
Then Rich started asking the adults to join in the club outing. Great. Then he asked me.
I had 12 weeks. That's totally ages to learn how to sail a Laser. Isn't it? As a family we have 2 Lasers, one decent, one not so. My eldest Son quite rightly gets first dibs on the decent one which leaves me with the ropey one. The ropey one leaks, has a selection of slugs and snails living on it, has a very special outhaul and downhaul all in one system and is really embarrassingly filthy.
I tried several times to protest that the boat wasn't suitable. The only reply back was that my son has sailed it really rather successfully and to quite frankly, be quiet.
I decided I would give it a wash before we left and remove some of the farmyard animals living on it. My day however didn't quite pan out how I'd hoped and I ended up with 40 minutes to wash and load the boats onto the road trailers. I arrived at the Mere to find the trailer allocated didn't have a jockey wheel and was eye wateringly heavy to drag. That coupled with the discovery that the decent lasers trolley had 2 flat wheels and was broken didn't help matters. Finally, the trolley was too large for the road trailer and I'd forgotten all the ties to tie it to the trailer. A proper useless disaster. Many other families arrived and loaded their boats onto their lovely working trailers and I burst into tears. Big fat tears. I was totally and utterly hopeless and had failed my son.
I found my friday night friends and they comforted me with a big gin whilst dear Rich quietly sorted the trailer situation and Ed tied the boats on the next morning.
We arrived at Draycote the place was buzzing. 14 of us travelled there making the total open count to 38. We rigged our boats, listened to the briefing and set off on the water.
Just before I left, Rich enquired if I remembered to take any water with me, something I constantly hound my own children to do. No, I replied meekly and he shoved a bottle into my hand. It started to rain quite heavily as we waited for the race to start. Then, to add to my joy, my boat started to leak and fill with water. Hmmm, I thought, clearly the ropey boat was properly ropey. I waved to the safety boat and summoned them over. "Excuse me I said, my boat is leaking". "Really?" Came the reply. "If you sink we will come and save you.".
Ok, so I was on my own with this one. Think, Jane, Think. Yes the water bottle. I took a quick swig, then poured the rest away. I then proudly used it as a bailer. I figured I could bail as quickly as I was filling up. Ben Ainslie can, so why can't I? I made the start line bailing furiously, announcing to anyone who would listen that my boat was sinking. As the race started I focused less on the bailing and more on the racing. The rain subsided as did my leaking boat. I realised my stupidity, it wasn't leaking but merely filling up with rain water. How silly did I feel.
The rest of the day passed without incident, save for the rookie errors in failing to spot a ridiculous bias on the line. We had wonderful camaraderie on the water, it was a real treat to sail together with all our OMSC friends and ones we'd made on the water. I came 6th overall. Totally and utterly delighted. Olton Mere had some cracking results of 1st, 2nd and 3rds but more importantly everyone had achieved and we'd been a wonderful team.
We regrouped back at the Mere for Fish and Chip celebrations and birthday cakes made by the very talented Gill. We shared stories and laughed, a world away from the tears of 24hrs previously.