Christmas week 3-day family camp, at Mandwa

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It was a glorious 2 day and 3 nights of sailing, windsurfing, kayaking… There were 14 kids aged 6-12. The youngest (Noor) was a sweet 6 year old girl who could be best described as a purebred water baby. She just loved the water.

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There were two teenage girls, who took to the Hobbie Cat, like ducks take to water. By the end of the camp they were doing the trapeze, and racing at top speeds…al by themselves (the instructors only watched from ashore)

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Among the adults, there were 3 windsurfers…all stepping onto the windsurfing board for the first time.

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Then there were 5 ladies, who took a fancy to sailing the Beneteau 24.7, complete with a ballooning big red spinnaker. By the end of the camp, they had learnt to rig the sails by themselves – all of the sails – the mainsail, the jib and the big bright red spinnaker. They also became adept at holding the tiller and shouting sailing terms like “tacking’ “ready to gybe”  “hard to port” “give way”

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On the last day, there was an interesting session on learning to tie sailor's knots correctly. It was interesting to watch the participants get all tied up in their ropes :)

Completing this camp, took a lot of hard work, sportsmanship and commitment for all the participants. Their conversion from landlubbers to sailors did not happen overnight. By the second morning there wee many who were already tired and sore all over. But they were such good sports and so determined to learn. The weather also played its part. It was nice and cool in the mornings and in the evenings and the afternoons were wonderfully, lazily pleasant.

Over lunch, on the second day, the participants were excitedly sharing their experiences and here’s what was overheard.

One of the windsurfers – a 50 plus guy with 2 teenage kids who were learning the Hobbie Cat, was making great progress on his windsurfing board. He had now leant how to relax and balance and take the board out to the marker, turn, and bring it safely back to shore and her was now hoping to learn how to go faster and make many turns in the water. Here’s what he said

“If someone had to tell me yesterday that you can even stand on that board for just 5 minutes, I wouldn’t have believed in him. But here I am, now I can balance quite well and seem to have got the basics. It did take a lot of aches and pains and a lot of falling into the water but it was all absolutely worth it. Now I want to try and race.”

 Here’s what another windsurfer replied,

“ Yeah! You start with first learning to stand on it without falling.

Then you want to make it move.

Then you want to make it move in the right direction.

Then you want to be able to come back correctly.

…finally, you want to be able to do all of that…ALONE and without the instructor’s help

Perhaps the highlight of teh day was the Dolphins. They must have sensed this group was having a lot of fun so they joined in - you know how playful dolphins can be?

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How did the 6 year old like the experience?

“I sailed the boat, alone!” She shrieked! “Madam (Rosie the instructor) was standing in the water and telling me what to do” “hold the tiller straight, move it away from you, let the boat turn, then hold the tiller straight again.” She playfully mimicked Rosie giving instructions. “It was so much fun” she said as she smiled with joy.

 She really did get into the boat all alone. Though the water was just 4 feet in depth where she was sailing her Laser Pico, it was still a very commendable achievement for a 6 year old. Through the camp this little bundle of joy kept everyone entertained with her antics of paddling away in the water, safe and secure with her life jacket. She even sat in a Kayak and paddled it out, in a mock race for the kids.

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Rosie also kept the other kids on their toes with constant questioning, “what’s this?” she’d point to the mainsail and ask, and they would all answer in one shout “ The mainsail!.”  “Which side is portside?” she’s ask, and they would dutifully point. “What do you do when you need to slow down?”  “Let out the sails” they would answer, like smart trained sea cadets. She watched them with a hawk’s eye as they rigged their boats, constantly giving tips and bits of helpful information. Her colleagues, Gilbert ( fondly called Gilly), Lian, and Steven were just as methodical and every bit encouraging of each of their wards. This was especially evident in the afternoon playtime when they would splash about in the water with the kids and even play football with them.

The windsurfers were coached by the muscular and well-experienced Kamil (our chief instructor who hails from turkey). His animated gestures onshore as he did mock drills with his trainees, was a great sight to watch. “Hold it like this,” he’d say, gesturing with his arms out in front of him and insisting his trainee’s do the same and practice every move onshore before getting into the water. He was always besides his students out on the water, guiding all three and encouraging all three to give of their best.   No wonder they all ended up learning so much and wanting to some back regularly for more.

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The teens on the Hobbie Cat were already experienced in sailing the laser Picos and fun boats. They had also taken a shot at handling the Beneteau 24.7 by themselves… and now wanted to race and trapeze their Hobbie Cat! With the able guidance of their instructor, Gilly, they soon became virtual veterans. They could be seen- and heard shrieking in delight, as they soon learnt to race and trapeze with great skill. They even insisted on capsizing and righting their Hobbie, several times, just to gain more and more confidence.

Then there was the ladies I the Beneteau 24.7, guided and coached by John (and experienced sailor who has raced in a world cup). Form the shore, their big red spinnaker was very visible, as the sailed farther out. In water more suitable for that yacht. What did the ladies have to say? “ Well the first day, I was all confused, with so many different sailing terms, I kept mixing them up and getting lost” said one. “But then I concentrated on getting a feel of the boat and how it responded to the wind in its sails…and then, without realizing it…I had learnt to sail” she said. “Getting that spinnaker out takes some skill but I finally got it” said another. “Rigging the mainsail, needs strong arms, but I did it!” she exclaimed “now I FEEL like a sailor.”

On the last day, they even did a one-hour session on learning how to tie sailor's knots.

All of them went home, tired, muscles aching but very happy and very proud of what they had achieved. “When I came here the first day, I was wondering if I would be able to do this” said one of the ladies “but it was fun, and a great learning experience” was the common feedback.

Thank you Aquasailors, yes you are now certified Aquasailors. Do come back again and do tell your friends and families to come to this camp. We hold one, every month. We are planning to hold a camp like this again 25-27th January 2013. Book your seat now. Call 9987681826 / 9004493220 for bookings.7681826 / 9004493220

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