This weekend I went to the Isle of Wight for the Blind National Championship organised by Blind Sailing UK.

Friday morning, I ran around my house packing everything I needed from toiletries to dinghy boots in my purple rucksack to take with me. I was ready by 10 which was the time that I had arranged for someone to kindly pick me up and take me to the Red Jet terminal. My lift arrived a little late due to the traffic and when we arrived at the terminal it was a mad dash and we missed the ferry by 30 seconds. Now we had to wait for an hour. The hour quickly passed and finally we were on the ferry and on our way to Cowes

When we arrived, we were told that the practise sailing was not going ahead as it was too windy. After lunch we did some shore-based training instead. Firstly, we had to work in the team’s we’d been put in to. A course was laid outside; it was chairs that had been placed to act as race markers. We were all given a piece of rope and had to pretend that it was a sail. Next, we had to tack (put the bough- pointy end of the boat in to the wind to turn) and jibe (put the stern-back end of the boat through the eye of the wind) our way around the course, using the rope to indicate whether we were on a port (left) or starboard (right) tack. The aim of the game was to do it in the quickest time possible. My team came third. Once we’d done this we went down to the jetty to get ourselves orientated with the boats we would be racing in; this type of boat is called a Sonar. As the rest of my team had competed in the nationals before they helped me to know where everything was and answered any questions that I constantly asked (I can assure you there were lots.)

Before going to where we were staying one of the volunteers went through the basics of racing rules. The talk was hands on; we used tiny models of boats on a table. To enable us to work out what tack the boats were on they had a model of a boom. The boom is a horizontal beam that the main sail attaches to. The boom is attached to the mast and sailors must be very careful of it as it swings from port to starboard.

Saturday’s racing was called off due to storm Calum creating too much wind so we spent the morning preparing the boats for racing on Sunday and in the afternoon we had free time; I decided I wanted to go with some of the others out on a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) This for me was something I thought I should do to try and get over my anxiety about being on a RIB. I have had a bit of a fear since I fell backwards in to a rib while transferring from a boat to another because I lost my footing. I didn’t hurt myself but scared myself silly so got frightened every time I had to get in or out of a boat.   This was the best thing I could have done to wave good bye to my fears. I had so much fun! I willingly went out and got wet on a boat; bouncing around on the waves was very fun and when the owner asked if anyone wanted to have a go at driving the boat I couldn’t let this chance pass me by could I?

Driving a RIB at some speed was so exhilarating and gave me a massive sense of freedom even though Gavin was being my eyes and giving me instructions. I can’t legally drive a car but can drive a RIB on the open water under supervision – WOW what a blast. Watch out world here I come … #DareDevilKate

The rest of the weekend was filled with lots of laughter and even though we didn’t do any racing I still learnt lots and had fun; even sitting under a tent made from the mainsail was character building. It was just my luck that when the sail filled with rainwater it emptied on to my head. I am very much looking forward to training weekends in the future and would like to thank everyone who was involved in the weekend for the organisation, encouragement, help and support.

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