Despite the best efforts of the distinctly unseasonal August weather, the Cadet Week team managed to get a virtually a full programme of races for all of the 133 cadet sailors who range from 7 to 18 years old. We suspect that this is one of if not the biggest Cadet sailing events in the UK as a whole.
Some nimble race officering from both the Outside PRO (Richard Hayden) and Inside PRO (Martin Blackmore) meant that creek races were run on the first couple of days, to allow the cadets to be able to safely race in what were genuinely testing, but very enjoyable conditions.
There was a lot of swimming at times, but the fantastic armada of safety boats (ably lead by Simon Cook as event safety officer) meant that they were all counted out and all counted back in again!
Pic courtesy of Jade Haynes
For our more junior cadets in Diamond and Emerald fleets, the weather was a little too exciting for them to sail at the start of the week, but some excellent work from their coaches and safety teams, meant they were able to get out onto the water for some non-sailing fun. As you can see, the lack sails didn’t seem to matter to them!
The on-shore activities were nothing short of superb as well, with a colour run on Monday, controlled madness at Jump Street, a wet day of activities at the club on Wednesday which included the second annual running of Carole Britton’s fantastic Yacht match racing on the Lawn (won for the second time by Lucas Day and Will Marfleet), facepainting and a superb and spontaneous game of rugby on the lawn in the pouring rain…
Thursday was “sparkle day” with a variety of inventive and eye-popping outfits both on the water and off. The amount of sparkle and glitter was well up to the week’s Hollywood theme!
On the final day, the traditional parade of boats and water fight occurred in front of the clubhouse and it appears that most were wetter than they were whilst sailing.
In a departure from normal tradition, the Viking trophy was run from in front of the club and instead of cadets sailing Sonatas out of the sight of other competitors, this year they had the far more challenging experience of racing traditional Mersea Duck Punts. No centreboard. No rudder and most importantly, no buoyancy if swamped…
The cadets coped remarkably well after some able instruction from Ben Simpson in the subtle art of Punt sailing. With a Le Mans start and the race being called by Richard Hayden, they were off. As is the way of these things, at this point, the wind decided to shut off and so led to a superbly tactical and skilful race, with all 6 cadets managing to get their donated vessels around the course in one piece. It was a delight to see them being challenged, but also to see how they relished sailing something so different from a modern, high-performance dinghy. I have a feeling that we may see some more interest in this traditional yet challenging sailing fleet from a new generation of sailors!
Following prize-giving (All Results are available HERE) the week was then rounded off with a fantastic party with Ultrafunkula providing the tunes and a firework display to the usual cacophony of “oohs and aahs.”
Thanks to the weather, it was a tough week for all of those involved in organising the event and huge thanks have to go to the Cadet Week Committee (ably lead by the Chairman James Sanderson) and all of the hundreds of volunteers who perform a myriad of tasks from Galley, Beach, Safety Boats, Committee Boats, Motherships (with our Commodore John Munns manning the outside fleet mothership), Pod Parents and the Social team that was led by the always incredible Laura Jones.
To give an idea of the sheer size and scale of the event, then for the first time, a video was produced using footage from across the fleet of parents and volunteers. It was ably pulled together by Matt Sanderson and is available on YouTube.
Further thanks must go to those who generously lend their vessels for use as committee boats and motherships, this year we were very thankful to have Serendipity as Outside Committee boat thanks to Peter Clements, Richard Matthews provided his Powerline as Outside fleet Mothership (and committee boat on Friday) and Jade Haynes provided Freedom for use as Inside Fleet Mothership.
The ever-marvellous Chrissie Westgate came out to capture the fun and as you can see here, produced some amazing images that I am sure the cadets and their parents will cherish for years to come.
Thanks must also go to the fabulous staff and social committees at both WMYC and Dabchicks, who organised events and kept us all fed and watered. Looking at the till receipts, everyone must have been terribly thirsty, so they did a superb job in keeping everyone way from the scourge of dehydration…
Finally, the last bit of thanks must go to the cadets themselves. With the weather being so challenging, to see them bravely go out and deal with conditions that really were pushing them at times, was astonishing to see. We have some true sailing stars of the future in our junior ranks and they will be the lifeblood of the club for decades to come.
It was a pleasure to host you all and roll on Cadet Week 2024!
Inside Safety Over and Out…
Rear Commodore (House)