Man overboard, coming alongside, picking up a mooring, tight circles, follow my leader and a triangular course - all things you could be expected to perform on the pre-entry asssessment in double handers. Why is it called Pre-Entry? Well you have to complete and pass it before being allowed to take part in an RYA Dinghy Instructor course, one of the primary goals of the Leap for Success Scholarship.

In essence, it is a level of personal competence expected of Dinghy Instructors. The week at times felt very much like a head down and power through week. That said we had a couple of afternoons where we got to go for a blast which was nice. Being the swot I am, I raced through our online courses of Safe and Fun and Essential Navigation on Monday night. I am getting a nice set of certificates and diligently gluing them in my logbook!

Our instructors for the week were Aaron and Sophie who put us through our paces mainly focusing on our manoeuvres. The Leapers all mixed up who they sailed with deliberately - it seems that communication and style is very important to create a good gelling helm and crew partnership. Personally I enjoyed sailing with everyone but I want to give a particular shout-out to Jenna as we pushed each other, bounced off one and another and had a good laugh too whilst sailing. Cheers mate. Our tight circles on Thursday were a thing of beauty. My lungs were burning after them.

Having struggled with rudderless sailing previously, Aaron showed me a good solo technique I had not tried before. Sheeting in and out both the jib and main sails in varying amounts allows you to steer the boat without a rudder. Pulling the jib sheet in turns you downwind and sheeting in the main turns you upwind.

Owner Peter & Ops Director Rob put us through our paces

Everyone was feeling the pressure, despite being reassured that it shouldn’t be viewed as pass or fail Friday because we would all still have jobs for the season and could pass later. Friday came and went super quick.

Two big cheeses took us for our assessment. They were Peter Gordon, Rockley owner and Financial Director and Rob Clark, Operations Director. My mini group was made up of Peter (not Gordon or windsurfer Pete) Dani, Roxy, Jaz, Chris, Jenna, Sam and me. We were being assessed by Peter Gordon. To say I was exhausted by Friday would be an understatement. Fate certainly has a sense of humour as I ended up in a boat with my friend, colleague, bunk mate and fellow reprobate Sam. To say that the combined mass of Sam and I would be enough to feed a small village for a month would be an understatement. We are both fully paid members of Old Big Bloke-ians RFC, making our boat a slow starter and add to that Sam’s guts were to put it mildly…loose; we were in for a fun morning.

All seemed to be going well with Sam edging me on the manoeuvres and sailing despite his ailment. I thought the tide turned as Sam’s guts did as we had to bow out for a ten minute break so Sam could cleanse himself. Powering through Sam and the rest of us passed too.

That night, it wasn’t only Sam’s guts that were running wild as we hit the town for some well earned refreshment and Poole Quay’s finest establishment. Who am I kidding?! We had several rounds of alcohol and danced till we dropped. I believe everyone was in equal amounts amazed and horrified with my enthusiastic and rhythmic dancing. Rockley and Poole Quay you’re welcome!

Progress made/challenges/highlight of the week:

The week was all geared towards the pre-entry and so my progression, challenges and highlight of the week are all closely linked. Now to be clear I passed my pre-entry but Peter (our Assessor) thought I could benefit for some extra coaching. So after lunch Peter and I went out in a Hartley 15 and put it and myself through my paces. My tacks, gybes, luffing up and bearing away needed some polish. After an hour they were all smoother and less tough on me physically. Peter has bestowed upon us the virtue of not only sailing better but making sure you look good doing it! Only the Dinghy Instructor course to go.


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