ISO Training Weekend - Grafham Water SC (24th - 26th August 2002)

August Bank Holiday weekend - Grafham Water Grafham Water July Training

I've often wondered what a Class Association training event would be like so I spoke to my helm about attending one such event but keeping the whole three days free during Bank Holiday August was a hard task.

Both of us, Helm and Crew, managed to square up being away from our respective partners/dog/family etc for the three days and as free men, we got the under-cover on the boat, dropped the mast and headed for Grafham Water near Cambridge. After 150 miles and very late Fri night arrival followed by a tent pitching, a good night's kip was in order. I was quite apprehensive as to what the next day would bring

Both my Helm and I have been racing the ISO at club level for around six months, and after falling out of the tub on most of the earlier outings things have been getting better for us, but it's been a steep learning curve. After 6 months we are now coming mid fleet at our local club, though at times, it's been frustrating as we want to do better and after seeing the promotion on the ISO web site for a training event, we grabbed at the chance to attend.


Wind, zero. Hummm, not good me thinks. At 9am the covers were off and masts up high, but no wind. The 11 or so boats that had made the trip coughed up their £50 for the 3 days and were a little downhearted for the first hour. But then again, at £50, not bad value considering Grafham entry for 3 days alone is around £25. Being trained by the National Champion for what amounts to £25 for three days sounds like good value to me. So with no wind, our trainers Bob and Pete set about teaching us the basics of rig set-up. After lots of rake measuring and rig tensioning, Pete explained the basic rig set-ups. Very light winds - flat sails and open leaches. Then without further addoo we were all launched for a bit of sailing around some buoys.

The light wind sailing gave us all practice at not rocking the boat and I became much better at trying to find a comfortable position to sit in the boat without a cleat, rope or block being wedged up my backside. Pete set about filming us doing basic Tacks and Gybes. After an hour or so, the wind had filled in a bit more, enough for crew and helm to sit on the same side at least. The afternoon saw a quick look at the video footage. It's very embarrassing watching yourself tacking badly. Nevermind, we were all in the same boat - to learn. The evening ended up in the local pub for scran and a good pint or 2.


The day started with better winds, enough for a spot of trapeasing. We were even practising our race starting techniques. Lots more filming going on, for debrief. Poor Pete, stuck between trying to film us from a moving boat whilst getting steady pictures and also shouting orders and tips at us at the same time. Not easy. The footage was surprisingly good. The day ended with another very informal video debrief and a quick mention of race tactics. Bring a presentation board next time Pete!


Monday saw us all either excited or scared to death as a Force 5 blew in. Perfect for the heavies I guess. I think all of us joined the fish at some point with the day being broken into 5 or 6 short races that provided us all with much needed race start practice. After a lap I began to realise why Pete, our trainer, had a reputation for telling you like it is: I had heard 'tact' was not his department and while blasting downwind I kept hearing Pete's voice shouting at us from the Rib. 'Legs together - Head up - Bear away lads - Head up - Hike harder - Com' on lads wake up !!!' This was what I had come to a training event for. This is what I needed to hear. It was great having someone else, who is not in the boat, looking at your sailing then pulling it apart and then telling you how to do it better. Great stuff. Sign me up again please ! Good work Pete.

After another video debriefing, we headed home. Knackerd, beat, battered, and bruised but very revved up for our next club race. We'll do our best now, knowing how to set the boat up properly, handle it right and race it better.

To surmise, a great 3 day weekend, hard work, good laughs and great company. It's great tuition and excellent value. The ISO class association, Pete and Bob, you did us proud. Thank-you for giving up your free time to us all.

Matt Jackson
ISO 737 Crew
Rudyard Lake SC, North Staffs