Number 200 / July 2008

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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The Gossip - A Retrospective (SteveR)

As 'Gossip' has now reached Edition 200, it seems appropriate to look back on how the Newsletter, and the OCSG, has progressed since the early 1990s.

The oldest copy of 'Gossip' that I have in my possession is Issue 30 from 1993. The home PC revolution has certainly led to technical advances and today's copy looks more professional than the somewhat more basic early issues. It is also bigger covering eight pages of A4 rather than four.

A smiling RodL adorns the front cover of Issue 30, proudly holding the Lakeside plate which he has just won in a race. His canoe, a 1960s PBK, stands in the background of the photo. Then, as now, meet reports took up much of the issue. There is also an account of an OCSG party at Keith and AnnM's house, which sounds most unreserved. I note that the race the next morning began at 11am!

Issue 30 features two short articles on rig design, whereas Issue 200 includes no technical articles. Some may see this as a retrograde step, and if any one would like to contribute technical articles then I feel sure that they would be published. That said, the race report in Issue 30 notes that four of the 19 boats that raced suffered breakages. Perhaps boat building advice was just more pertinent then, although in reality I suspect that the early boat building advice contributed to as many breakages as it prevented!

This issue of 'Gossip' features two articles on technique, whereas Issue 30 had none. I wonder, has the modern OCSG evolved from being primarily a boat-building club to being primarily a sailing club?

One thing that would seem to have remained as a feature of 'Gossip' is an element of controversy. Issue 30 includes a letter from a member expressing concern that recent rule changes allowing canoes to use decks and outriggers, which will spoil the activities of the group and eventually lead to all OCSG members sailing IC 10s and Norfolk Punts.

One feature that is evident in all issues of 'Gossip' is a heavy reliance on contributions made by members, and no review of the history of 'Gossip' would be complete without thanks to all those who have written articles over the years, and a request for members to continue providing contributions.


Chasewater Training Meet - June 2008 (SteveR)

Around 20 members joined us at Chasewater Outdoor Education Centre for the training meet. The venue found universal approval, a remarkably pleasant tree lined reservoir, which provided a relaxing atmosphere that belied the urban location. Best of all, the reservoir's central situation meant that no participant had to travel for more than 3 hours to get there, regardless of whether they set off from the Lakes or the South Coast. The sailing club provided us with access to their bar in the evening, and the outdoor education centre provided us with showers, and a room that we could have used if the weather was inclement (which it wasn't).

Keith did a fine job of organising, and new member JimG stepped into the breach and used his local knowledge to organise a pub meal for us in the evening. Training sessions were provided for those that wanted them by Keith and myself. I was really pleased by the enthusiasm shown by members to develop their sailing, and I promise to not write any more whinging articles if this trend continues!

The bulk of the training sessions concentrated on efficient sailing, with topics addressed including boat speed, sailing up wind, tacking and gybing. On Sunday one group experimented with boat control and stopping, while another group practiced capsizing and rescues on the shore before donning the group's new dry suits to try out what they had learnt on (and in) the water.

Despite the lack of a tea shop (quel horeur) we were all keen to return to Chasewater next year, and we discussed the possibility of holding a more traditional meet there. The relatively small venue and high density of craft did cause some problems, with one collision between a learner in a sailing dinghy and one of our boats, but the situation did enable us to relax the club's safety recommendations as there was little chance of a sailor getting into a difficult situation and remaining unnoticed.

Rescuing a capsized boat.
Something which came to light during the rescue practice session on Sunday was that the received wisdom as to how to come alongside a capsized boat in a canoe with mini outriggers is often not the best strategy. An improved method is shown opposite.

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