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The GOSSIP

Number 133 / May 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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had made in the winter. He too considered that his sailing would benefit. The Daves (P & S) then appeared sporting a double spritsail rig, two 22 sq. ft. sails. As one would expect it seemed to function well; we look forward to a repeat. In the evening about a dozen members had drinks and a bar meal at the on-site golf club - standard, solid pub fare at a very reasonable price.

At breakfast time on Sunday a cool wind was sweeping down the grey waters a little more strongly than before, but as the day wore on the sun gradually made its presence felt. Walter announced briefing at 10, ranking race to begin at 11. The course was a simple two-lap affair, appropriate for a

lake with many buoys and a good number of other craft: start into the wind by our launching area, 300 yards to an OCSG buoy, then a long run down to circumnavigate the island (inhabited by large numbers of geese, ducks and a heron), a beat back to the buoy; repeat to the start/finish line.

The start of the ranking race. Note that the editor (far left) could be said to be leading at this crucial stage.

DaveS had established a good lead after the first rounding of the island. I noticed that RodL, no slave to conformity, was the only racer to go round clockwise (within the rules). WalterG had generously offered a seat in his trimaran to JimB, which so altered the trim of his boat that I had someone to really contest 10th place with! My expectations of SteveR in his new canoe, mentioned in Feb.'s GOSSIP, were not misplaced - only 19 secs behind the winner and 2.5 minutes in front of 3rd.

The same course was run for the Staffordshire Plate in the afternoon. Walter, minus his ballast (as Jim said) put in an excellent performance, otherwise placings were similar. It was grand sailing! Thanks to Jan, Ann and Ellie for timing us.

So, should the OCSG return to Rother Valley? Members I spoke to thought yes, even taking into account the good fortune of the weather. It's certainly a new sort of venue, but none the worse for that. The feeling of spring's awakening was enhanced by my first sighting this year of some of the swallow family - house martins. It used to happen at Rudyard, too. And the herons were constantly flapping slowly up and down the lake, occasionally dipping down to the water for some morsel. WalterG and RodL, ably assisted by JohnS, ensured a smoothly run meet.

And where was Bernard? Despite joining in the fun and chairing a brief committee meeting on Saturday, BernardO's name does not appear in the race results. How's this? Surely he's not made a self-denying ordinance, renouncing competitive sports, taken the cruisers' veil, so to speak? Indeed not. Bernard had been invited to Windsor Castle, no less, to be awarded the Silver Wolf, the highest honour for service in the international scouting world. He began as a scout leader when in the army at the age of 18. Now past the age of retirement, he is still involved in the organisation. Our hearty congratulations. Your absence was excused.

 

Book Review - Over The Sea To Skye (RoyB)

Early Travels by Canoe to the Scottish Islands and West Coast 1874-1876
Edited by Jan Poskitt
Published by Solway Dory, 91 pp., 6.99 (+76p postage, total 7.75)
Available at OCSG meets, too.

Readers of GOSSIP have already enjoyed a taste of this book in an account of a trip from the Clyde to Iona by members of the Clyde Canoe Club (CCC) in 1874 (GOSSIP, Dec. 01 & April 02). Here six more expeditions as well as six CCC races are described in that delightful style, which gives a clear account of the adventures undertaken and the perils overcome, and yet reflects the reserve and understatement that we associate with the Victorian era. Each canoeist is identified not by his own name but by that of his canoe, and one notices a tendency to describe their actions using verbs in the passive: "After resting, a paddle to the end of Loch Scavaig... was proposed but Bothnia was fast asleep in his tent and wouldn't move, while Dolphin was off to some houses after fresh eggs and butter, so Lark was left to go alone." (From an account written by the owner of the canoe 'Lark'.)

However, Jan Poskitt has not simply assembled these reports in a book, she has attempted to recapture the world of canoe sailing of the period by including a variety of early CCC photos showing the boats under sail, on the beach, at camp and with the canoeists themselves. John MacGregor, the pioneer of Rob Roy fame, even appears amongst them. Jan has also dug out excerpts from contemporary manuals dealing with canoe construction, clothing, food, dangers, loneliness (!), etc. With the help of Roger Hancock of the Loch Lomond Sailing Club, successor to the CCC, she has tracked down one of the actual canoes, now restored. We even read the obituary of one of the canoeists.

To a canoeist of the 21st century this is surely fascinating material. The skill, enterprise and

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