ISO Training Weekend - Weymouth & Portland SA (8th & 9th June 2002)

Jason bought the ISO a few of months ago for a different reason to most. The plan was to find something to fill the gap between days with smooth seas and little or no wind (Wakeboarding days) and days with strong winds (Windsurfing days). The Asymmetric spinnaker on the ISO would also mean that an instant increase in sail area was available on the days when the wind dropped halfway back from a day trip across from Mudeford to Bournemouth Pier. The boat was to replace an Enterprise.

The idea of racing only really came about after browsing the ISO website and seeing details of the training weekend. As we were both free that weekend we signed up, not really knowing what to expect.

When we arrived on the training weekend, neither of us had ever raced a dinghy before, and therefore only had a shaky knowledge of the racing rules. I had only crewed in the ISO twice and hoisted the spinnaker once. Jason had taken the boat out about six or seven times, with three different crews. The control lines and rigging had roughly been set up by looking at the ISO website and through phone calls to Topper.

In summary we lacked familiarity with the boat, racing skills and didn't match the stereo type experienced dinghy sailors that we expected to find on the training weekend.

Saturday was ideal wind wise, if a little lacking in the sunshine department, allowing use of the trapeze while having to ease the main sheet slightly during gusts. Disappointingly only two ISO's actually turned up. However that made our 'mock' race results look better as we came 2nd in most races and actually finished first in one. This impressed our girlfriends until we confessed how many boats there were. Also during the course of six or seven races we managed to notch up ten or so capsizes. But by the end of the day we were managing to tack and gybe while standing, something that we'd never have even attempted without this training, we were delighted!

The day had started on shore with a relaxed rigging talk around the other boat, lots of common sense ideas from Pete and Jonny while they outline the effects of all the controls, with time being taken to answer all our questions.

Once on the water we raced from a start/finish line directly upwind to a single buoy and then returned downwind with the kite flying. It took approximately ten minutes to cover the course with ten minutes between the races, this format was repeated numerous times. Pete and Johnny watched the first race from their rib. Improvements were suggested thereafter, everything from standing up as often as possible, to flat is fast, even hovering at the start line.

With the aid of a video camera faults were identified and corrective action suggested, all in a very relaxed atmosphere with no pressure, firstly and foremost we were all there to enjoy ourselves. Jason sailed one race with Johnny crewing while I watched from the rib, the following race I crewed with Pete helming while Jason watched from the rib. There followed a video debriefing which unfortunately managed to capture the exact moment that I made a rapid run across the boat, nicely ducking under the boom and then disappearing head first over the side of the boat and into the water as I lost my footing. I could hear the laughing from under the water. The video playback really helped to show us what we were doing wrong.

Saturday evening involved a few pints over a Weymouth pool table followed by pizza then back to the tent.

Sunday saw no sailing, too much wind - force 7 offshore, and a depressing amount of rain. So we had a relaxed class room session outlining improvements from the previous day, then covered the minimum number of rules we needed to know to race, followed by race tactics.

We then moved outside and looked at the setup of the boat, numerous points were identified and corrective action given, some points we'd never even noticed, but with Pete and Jonny's experience we soon had a long list of things to adjust and change.

Finally we were helped to de-mast and pack the boats up ready for the trip home, Pete and Jonny pointed out all the short cuts greatly simplifying the whole packing process.

We went away from the weekend tired, bruised but with bags of enthusiasm to go and practice what we had learned. The way the weekend was structured meant that whatever your experience you were catered for and virtually guaranteed to benefit from the experience.

Unfortunately I'm leaving the country at the end of August 2002 so Jason will be looking for another crew. If your interested post a message on the message board.


Vantage Sailing - Supplier of ISO Parts