Number 130 / February 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Welcome Winter Break (RoyB)

Sun shining, a gentle breeze out on the lake - ideal conditions for the OCSG winter meet at the YMCA Lakeside centre, Windermere. I arrived on Friday evening to find a note at reception addressed to me and two other latecomers that the party had repaired to the pub down the road. So the weekend got off to a sociable start, and continued in a similar vein throughout. The warm bunkrooms and the roomy lounge were, I think, preferred to the facilities at the two previous winter events at Coniston. The only possible drawback was the five-minute walk through the woods (or by the shore) to the dining room, as building works had put the nearer room out of action. On the other hand, the path by the water did provide beautiful views up the lake in Saturday's sunshine.

SteveR, the man in charge, had allotted two sessions, morning and afternoon, for sailing when help would be at hand in case of mishap. I counted 8 canoes on the water. Two were being tried out for

the first time: RonO had had his boat fitted out with new lug ketch rig, thwarts, rudder, etc. and pronounced himself very satisfied. Certainly one could see a marked improvement in his sailing. SteveR breezed away in the light airs in the bay, sailing his new, dashing craft, which bears some resemblance to the Clyde canoe. We await with

Here's RonO, looking very relaxed in his newly rigged craft.

interest his performance in the new season's races. Of particular interest too was HowardJ's latest boat (pictured above with BernardO + dog) with about 110 sq. ft. of sail in the jib, battened main and mizzen. A fine sight! In the evening's slide show we were shown what this craft is capable of.

After lunch various members brought out their jumble to tempt us, as well as DennisD and his wife offering a selection of sailing/canoeing second hand books for sale. As Dennis has written various reviews and articles for GOSSIP, I was pleased to finally meet them.

The AGM passed off in an efficient manner followed by preparations for the annual dinner. Thirty-one members sat down at the table; the room was soon filled with the buzz of conversation and good humour. In due course the commodore, JohnB, rose to give his speech and present awards. He began by announcing that he intended to stand down next year and went on to insist, as he has always done, that the OCSG must grow if it is to survive. I quote:

"We need to increase our public image and become more of an established part of the canoeing mainstream. Someone needs to take on the task that was done so well for the Dragon Boats in the Canoeist magazine. The OCSG has to increase its public presence, both nationally and internationally. We have already established contacts with Holland, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland and Sweden; we need to go on developing these contacts into something more meaningful. [However] we have traditions that are worth keeping. The sailing/paddling race for one, a tradition which goes back to the beginning of the sport in the 19th century. There is no doubt that we are the most highly developed group of canoe sailors in Europe. We could be the seed corn for a European-wide movement in sailing canoes, if we are brave enough and have the vision to take it on. The world goes on turning, the future begins now."

John then presented the following trophies:

Iceberg Trophy to HowardJ - his craft certainly outshone all others in the winter sunshine.

OCA Trophy to JohnS who over the years has refused to let convention rule his ideas in boat design.

OCSG Ranking Trophy to DaveS, now the sailor to beat, having come 3rd in '99 & 2nd in '01.

The editor of GOSSIP announced that SteveR had won the competition to identify 20 photos from amongst the many that he received during 2001 and thanked all contributors to this august publication.

BernardO expressed our appreciation to the chef and assistants for the food.

We returned to the lounge, where HowardJ gave a quite spellbinding show (with some accompanying atmospheric music) of slides taken on trips on the west coast of Scotland. The quality of photography was superb, the sense of adventure palpable and the general mood by the end inspired.

By Sunday morning DaveS had set up a computerised show of photos taken the previous day, along with others from last season. At which point, with rain beginning to fall, I took my leave. It had been a good weekend. Thanks to SteveR for organising rooms, activities, etc. and KeithM for dealing with booking.

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