Some of you may think of Hoylake as the place for golfing championships, others may never have heard of it. I don’t blame you. It’s a seaside (apparently the sea is out there somewhere) town on the Wirral Peninsula. Still no idea? Think north Wales, then think Liverpool. It’s between those.
For me it’s the finest land yachting venue in the country. A vast desert-like expanse of sand where the sea rarely makes it to the land. Not the most picturesque beach I’ve ever seen and where’s the sea? In the context of land yachting, who cares!
When I mention yachting and regatta, please remove any thoughts of Pimms or Champagne on the polished deck of an 18 footer. Picture a bunch of tinkering, engineering types who like beer and going very fast in a craft with no engine or brakes. On land.
I was competing in the Class 3 event. This is considered the F1 class of the sport. This term was probably created by Class 3 pilots! These are big yachts (not the biggest) that are capable of over 100km/h (60mph).
We had plenty of wind and it was a great event with very close racing. A Class 3 has a large sail as well as an aerofoil mast which makes it very powerful. Combine this with my scraggy physique and the yacht becomes a bit of a handful when the wind is blowing old boots. After being well off the pace in the first few races, I slowly but surely got it together. After each race I swapped a soft batten for a stiff one. Then I added a big sand bag to see if that would settle things down. Ah! Now I can think about sailing rather than how much money it’s going to cost if I tip this over. Again. Yes, I’ve done this twice before. I finished the day with a fourth place in the final race. Sunday was better again. Yacht detuned as much as possible with lighter winds and what do you know, I finished a race in second place!
From now on I will be using my unfashionably soft axle (to take power out of the gusts) and always using my big sand bag as my beer-gut substitute.
Many thanks to Graham from my club for bringing my yacht to the regatta and saving a trip down south. Despite complete lack of signal on my phone, he could send a text about some Blade Runner quote from Mars and it would make it to you. Also thanks to Patricia from the Irish contingent (of one) for taking some great action shots with my camera. No she didn’t take the shot of me disrobed, incase you were wondering.
You might be wondering what I get up to while D is hurtling around the beach. A group of us landyachting WAGs do the scoring for each race, which means sitting in an old caravan on the beach and keeping track of each yacht’s position. At a regatta like this, it is not too difficult as there are not many yachts racing but I am in training to help with the scoring at the European championships at Hoylake in September where there will be 5 or 6 times the number of yachts in each race. Fortunately, I will not be responsible for making any decisions about who crossed the line first – I just have to write the yacht numbers down as they are called out!
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
I hadn’t heard of Hoylake until I saw a cartoon many years ago. The main gist was a roadsign saying “Hoylake humbles careful drivers” which was hilarious once I discovered the golf connection and is funny again in the context of land-yachting. There is a beach like this in Broome, Western Australia. It is only like this when the tide is out. You would have to get the race over quickly because the tide comes in again; almost as fast as you can sail away from it. Oh, and did I mention the salt-water crocodiles? S it sounds idyllic – sand, sea, caravan……
sarah you need to shave, your arm is looking a little european
re-sandbags——poor wee bairn,they’re no feeding him enough !!!
don’t think it is my responsibility as it was nearly 43 years ago !!
PADDY LAST – “THE” IRISH SANDYACHT TEAM
Don’t give away all your sailing secrets !