In The Beginning - Part 2 (JohnB)
After some half hour or so, one sailing canoe had turned up; but within a couple of hours we had seventeen boats on the beach with a great variety of rigs. We had made a start. At the end of that summer we repaired to the East coast at the invitation of the Ten Metre sailors and had a splendid weekend sailing on the Blackwater Estuary. It was at this meet that the briefings by the Ten Metre race officer continually referred to us as the open canoe sailors. For want of a better title the name stuck and we have since been known as The Open Canoe Sailing Group, the OCSG. That autumn the first of the Gossips was published, we're now up to number 207 so we've done something right.
The following year 1991 we had a full program of sailing meets; the opening meeting was on Ullswater. Later that year we sailed from the Steam Boat Museum on Windermere. It was a real catholic collection of craft and rigs but we had a splendid weekend with something in the order of fifteen boats taking part. In the early years it wasn't all beer and skittles, sometimes only four or five boats would turn up at a meet but we soldiered on and in due course, after a few disappointing meets like that, the fleet began to grow. By the following year we were up to the sort of turnouts that you have today.
It was during this period that there began lots of experimenting with rigs, rudders and leeboards. This gathered pace and lasted for some few years but it was all good fun. You would see a tight knot of sailors around some boat or other on the beach; lots of knowledgeable chat although in truth we were all still fumbling for ideas and understanding. Each year though we got better, better prepared boats and better at sailing them, we would take ourselves off once a year to the Canoe Exhibition at the Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and search for converts. Of course we had our opponents, too, people who didn't want to race and became disaffected which caused a few upsets, particularly those who tried to undermine the OCSG.
In 1995 a small group of us went over to America and met the US canoe sailors that we had been