"Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon
them". As one who was born great, 13 1/2lbs according to
my mother (just over 6 kgs. for the post 1970 reader) fitting
this greatness into a National Twelve and attempting to sail
competitively seems like an impossible task.
I could, of course, join that currently popular exercise of finding
a small crew. Thanks in part to the Royal Harwich Yacht Club
baby boom (what else do you doin East Anglia during the Winter?)
there should be no shortage of crews lacking in that not so vital
ingredient - obesity. They are also expendible when they pass
the magic 6 stone limit, find another one.
That still leaves a major problem in my case, a suitable light
weight crew to enable me to match pound for pound what is rapidly
becoming the norm, would have to weigh no more than 3 stone;
which throws up further problems such as "do they manufacture
sailing clothing that small?"
Uffa Fox is credited with that immortal saying related to all
things nautical and boats in particular "The only place
that weight is of any use is in a road roller". I have no
desire to rush around the country squashing tarmac flat.
There are surely disadvantages in picking a small, lightweight
crew. These to my mind can be summarised as follows:
1. They cannot sit out far enough to leeward on a run to balance
2. They cannot sit out far enough to windward on the odd occasion
that the wind rises above a Force 3.
3. They have to be in bed before 9 p.m. (there are exceptions
to this as I am sure Chris Atkins would point out)
4. They have little conversation either of a tactical nature,
or to relieve the boredom when you have once more made a bad
5. They cannot stand their own round in the bar afterwards.
So why are these small crews so popular? The only reason I can
come up with is marginal planing conditions.
We all know that in strong winds the ability to control the boat
can be more important than flashes of boat speed with lots of
swimming practice thrown in. In very light winds (displacement
sailing) even a plank and a blanket drifts at a similar speed
to your latest high tech. National Twelve, it is the bit in between.
Unfortunately this bit is a big bit. Marginal planing in my case
starts at least one strength higher on the Beaufort scale than
for the light weights. So why stick with a crew who has put up
with me for the last four Burton weeks. Again, I can only summarize,
and whilst these points are applicable only to my sailing; they
make the difference between enjoying the sailing or merely taking
1. We both hate the same conditions, usually drifting conditions
that lead to an early retirement, hot water in the showers and
a cup of tea.
2. Conversely, we both like the same conditions, particularly
what has become known at Portchester as "revelling"
3. I am constantly updated on such important facts as what happened
in the last episode of Cheers, missed only because I keep programming
the video for the wrong day, time, etc.
4. We both share the same taste in good red wine.
So, unless a new rule is introduced requiring all boats and crews
to be ballasted to meet the weight of the heaviest, we shall
continue to drag our combined weight of 23 stone around the course;
safe in the knowledge that to a minority of the fleet we arc