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Japan 2013 Blind World Sailing Championships

We leave on Monday to travel to Japan for the 2013 World Blind Fleet Sailing
Championships. A competition where Blind sailors helm and crew J24s a
twenty-four foot racing yacht. With between seven to eleven boats fighting
for position on the start line it can be quite lively and invariably results
in very close competitive sailing.

I have raced in the Brixham sailing fleet for the last ten years and am
currently helming Blues Too in the Thursday evening Brixham yacht club,
sailing a  hunter Impala owned and raced by David and Liz Mills.  Doing well
in the first two races of the season coming second  and first so far in the
Corinthian fleet.

In Japan, I am hoping to replicate my success in Australia at the Perth 2011
Blind Match racing Championships at which I and the GB team won gold. In
Blind match racing, the boats are sailed with the entire crew comprised of
Visually impaired sailors, with no sighted crew on board.

We have been training for the Japan World Championships, through the winter
in Cowes Rile of White and Weymouth, much of the time in freezing conditions
and high winds.  Japan is predicted to be gentle winds and The GB team will
only have two days of training in Japan in which to adjust to these light
conditions.  The teams had a highly successful final training session in
Weymouth hosted by the Castle Cove sailing club who’s members generously
loaned us three J24s. Alongside this support, The GP team has been
generously sponsored by Mustow with team kit

There are nineteen teams from five countries, sailing in three separate
classes for Blind and partially sighted sailors. I will be competing in the
Blind class. Each team comprises of; a Visually impaired helm, visually
impaired main sal trimmer, Sighted jib sail trimmer  and a sighted

Racing starts Sunday 26th May finishing Saturday June 1st, weather allowing
we hope to sail up to fifteen races. Keen supporters can follow the progress
on the Blind Sailing web site

B1 Blind GP team; Vicki Sheen from Brixham Torbay, Sharon Grennan from Greenwich London, Ian Shearer from Cambria, Martin Moody from Southampton.

B1 Blind GP team; Vicki Sheen from Brixham
Torbay, Sharon Grennan from Greenwich London, Ian Shearer from Cambria,
Martin Moody from Southampton.

GB Teams going out

GB Teams going out

Thursday June 14th Some Wild Racing

Out racing in wind speeds 22-34MPH. It was wild and fantastic and all credit to Dave who never suggested he should helm the race instead of me.

 I could hear the wind and the rain hammering onto our sea facing windows. I looked quizzically at Dave and Liz when they came to pick me up, but they just shrugged and said “We’ll go and take a look, it will be good practice for us”.

 You know its rough when all you can hear is; white water around you, the noise of the boats rigging and mast trying to shake itself loose, and the noise of the wind howling.

 There was the odd moment when I suddenly realised me and the rudder were making no impact to wear the boat moved too, as a wave simply picked you up and ran with you, hurtling the boat on through the water.

 Yes we were blown over a couple of times, but the with reefs and a blade, the boat still felt balanced and in the main, under control. Maybe on the edge, but still handling it well.

 Only three boats started in our fleet and only us finished.  The other two fleets where similar, so we weren’t alone.

 Afterwards, we all looked like drowned rats but the boat looked unharmed and fairly chilled about it all. The next day I did start to identify some aching muscles. Who needs to find fairground rides when you sail with the fearless Dave and Liz.

Nick’s Story



Brixham Yacht Club

I had the honour of being asked to be the after dinner speaker at the Brixham Yacht Club annual dinner and dance. The more cynical of you-my husband included-will be asking yourselves “So who dropped out?”

 On the plus side. It was good to be able to share with the members my genuine thanks for the club giving me my first opportunity  out on the water and great support ever since then.  

 It was great to discover how interested and supportive everyone was to hear about Perth and the world Sailing Match racing Championships.

On the negative side. I have discovered several disadvantages to being an “After dinner” speaker:

 You have to wait three hours before you speak.  This gives you three hours in which you will have convinced yourself that you have forgotten the whole speech.

 You are invited to a free seven course meal. However you are too nervous to  eat more than a few mouthfuls of each course.

You are sat in a room with a bar, and at a table where people are offering you glasses of very nice wine. However you are unable to drink alcohol as you need to keep a clear head in order to remember the speech.

Not being able to read from a set of printed prompts has its disadvantages.  It is difficult to hold a microphone and read from Braille notes. Reading from in-depth Braille notes is not fluent therefore I always memorise my presentations and speeches.  Far more fluent and natural but far more high risk and nerve wracking.

 As it was a black tie event Zeke, unlike my husband,  did me proud and the boy managed to keep his bow tie on and in place all evening

 I therefore have a plea. Next time couldn’t I be the “Before dinner” speaker?

Just Sailing Thursday 2nd May


Blues too a 28 foot Hunter Impala took to the water to join the Brixham club racing for the first time in three years. Dave and Liz Mills the owners took a very brave step and asked me to helm her.  I think much to all of our surprise we won our first race

John and Sally who I normally crew for, have gone off sailing to the Med for six months. We were all gathered on the boat at their  leaving meal

Knowing I was boatless for the summer season I had wondered if I could ask Dave and Liz Mills who I did occasionally race with before they stopped racing three years ago, whether they had any sailing plans.  The truth was, I was planning to wait until far later in the evening once they had had enough to drink and might  feel mellow and reckless and agree to a suggestion from me.

 However early in the evening, not even prompted by alcohol, Dave suddenly announced “Blues Too is a lovely boat. It’s almost criminal that she is sat on the mareener  not sailing on a Thursday evening”.

“Ah” I said,  “I’d been meaning to ask you a favour”

“Why”  retorted Dave “Would you helm her?”.

 I am just so grateful. Not only have they made their boat available, but they are giving up their time to get the boat race fit and come out and race her with me. Then on top of all that, Dave provides me with the sighted information I need. Remember, these aren’t the windward leeward  courses used in Blind fleet or match racing. With  only white sailing, Instead, club racing includes,   flying the spinnaker  as well as reaches  as well as the beats and runs.

 Well, we now have a crew. Harley a Brixham junior sailor will be joining us and when Dave and Liz can’t make it then Ian Mills their son a sailing coach, will also put in a guest appearance.

 Well first race, first win and we won the beer leg so we could celebrate back at the yacht club. The club members made it clear they were glad to see Dave and Liz back again and Blues Too back out on the water on race night. But did suggest it would have been more polite not to win the race and the beer on your first time back in three years.

 I am not expecting our results to always be so good, but regardless it will be  great to be out on the water with such good company and great to have such an opportunity to develop my helming skills.

February 14th Salous Game Reserve Tanzania East Africa

The Salous Game reserve is amazing. Our camp is just outside the official boundaries of the park; however someone forgot to tell the animals, it is great they just wander through the camp. The Shower this morning was just a trickle of water, apparently this is because the baboons had turned on the outside tap beside our tent. Probably the same ones which woke us up by using the roof of our tent as a trampoline.

 The bush babies are really cute, but very noisy at night, so to is the hyena which wanders through the tents.

 We arrived at the game reserve in a single prop plane, landing on a grass\dirt air strip. Only structure was an opened sided thatch hut building around the trunk of a tree.  Its very like catching a bus. When the single prop plane lands, you wander up with your bag and ask the pilot if he is going in your direction.  

 We have met the lion pride twice now. Always at noon when they are at their most relaxed, well fed and hot and lazy. Good job really as our jeep pulled up within ten feet of a group of nine of them, females and youngsters.  I was even more perturbed the next day when Rama our guide found the pride again but this time pulled up between two trees under which they were seeking shade. I must confess I was twitching between my shoulder blades, sat in an open sided jeep watching four lions in front with five lions behind us.  Again they were just lazing in the mid day sun, I could even hear one of them panting in the heat.

 My favourite was the hippos. Lots of splashing grunting and calling to each other. As we left on our last day, we almost ran over a crocodile in order to pull into the edge of the water so I could get up close to the hippos. We did decide that retreat was best, when four of the hippos started moving in a line towards us. It turned out the jeep though tilted, wasn’t stuck in the mud and we made a hasty retreat. 

 We left Salous, taking off from the airstrip with giraffes munching in the tree tops alongside.

 Now in Zanzibar. This morning had my last dive. We found 7 turtles, I swapped the guiding hand of my dive buddy for the shell of a turtle, the turtle haply guided me around the reef it was Fantastic.

I have finally decided that 50th birthdays aren’t so bad after all.