WSC – Online E sailing.

High Speed on line sailing!

Believe it or not, way back when, during the lockdown there was still some of us enjoying some sort of sailing activities, all be it in the virtual world. Weymouth Sailing Club, like many other clubs around the country in April and May, took to the online sailing game Inshore Virtual Regatta’s amazing offer of free online races within your own groups.

On April the 13th after a few Telegram chats, a hardy few tentatively tried out the first trails, and much to all our surprise it was quite enjoyably and a success. After emails and social media notices were sent out, we ended up with a good size group willing to commit to some regular online racing. Some tried and failed, and some stayed committed to the course regardless of ability, but overall, we all had fun.

The first official online club race took place on Thursday 16th April. Online races are quite short (around 5 minutes), so we’d decided upon undertaking three races every evening. Under the instructions through a Telegram group chat, 8 J70’s appeared on the start line and we were under way to sail the first unofficial WSC Thursday night race of 2020. Richard Frost took the honours in the very first race, closely followed by Ned Winter and Nick Frampton. Unknowing to us all at the time, Ned and Nicks close rivalry was to provide us all with some fun banter over the following 6 weeks, especially when we started using zoom chats and having team races.

Tony Bennett Trophy. Ok so we couldn’t actually sail the Tony Bennet trophy but none the less a virtual race still took place. We now had a few young “hot shots” sign up, in the form of Elliott and Saffron Twigg. Both good sailors on the water, and as it turned out both good online gamers too. A series of three races were sailed, and the trophy went down to the last race between Ned and Saffron. In a closely contested final race, Ned took line honours and with it the 2020 Virtual Tony Bennett trophy.

We were all hooked now, and decided that we’d virtual race every Monday and Thursday evenings. Monday being the Dinghy night and Thursdays Keel boat night. The first Monday we had a go in the Nacra17’s. Boy these were fast and tested the skills of some of the older none gamers. Needles to say many of us needed a stiff drink after to calm the nerves, and we switched to the 49er for the following weeks. Elliot and Saffron Twigg battled out the first evenings racing, and indeed the rest of the Monday nights, with Elliott taking the series from Saffron with a win in the last race.

The Thursday nights continued until the 14th May. In week two Adam Rushton joined us, and took line honours in his very first race. The J70 was providing much closer racing, and by the last race, everyone had at least managed a podium, most with a race win. Elliott was close to making it an evening series double but luckily, I kept it together on the last week, and took the series win. Adam could have been up there too, but poor internet connections at the Jones’s provided a few to many DNC. If only he had a parent who knew something about IT.

Monday and Thursday evening results can be seen here:
There even some Youtube footage Nick recorded whilst we were racing.

As well as the series races, we also managed a few team racing events. The first one of these was on the Saturday of VE weekend. These consisted of 4 teams, each racing each other before the 3 race series medal races. Teams were selected through the use of a spreadsheet formula, with the idea to keep it close. Little did we know Neds Mate who’d been invited to get 4 equal team, and another newbie, Adele Strachan would turn out to be hot shots, and at the end of the evening after lots of great banter on a zoom chat group, they took the gold medal.

We concluded over the last two Thursdays of May with another team racing competition. 3 races as heats one week, and 3 races for the medals the next week. People were asked to pick their own teams this time, and we had a few more newbies. It was these newbies that were to show us all how it was done. With the gold medal taken by Team Frost (Andrew and Richard), one of Andrews mates, and Adele; from the young guns of team Twigg with two of their friends including our very own Deborah Blair.

By the end of the Lockdown we had 20 different sailors taking part, with lots of banter, close racing and something to look forward to when we were all getting a bit bored. A big thank you to all involved. Especially Ned and Jon Stow for setting up the Zoom meetings, and Nick F from the great art work for the team racing, and all the competitors. It wouldn’t have worked without you.

Submitted on 24th June 2020