by Gilly Mara
Coming from a kayaking background I am used to surfing and scooting across waves and love the thrill of the speed and acceleration that comes with it. However, all of that is with on inland waters or next to a beach.
Out on the ocean when the waves get too big we hand steer and navigate the best paths to get the best course. We have done a lot of this over the past 41 days but up until a few days ago I have spent all of those opportunities on the oars (I know where my skills lie) and have left the more sailing experienced crew members to steer.
A few days ago I was on shift with Guin as a pair and to split up the 2hrs we rowed 10 minutes each did a quick hand over and changed to steering. We had some fantastic westerly winds helping us go east. As the waves got bigger Guin encouraged me to steer and after a while I was feeling rather comfy. We have been playing a little game where any surf you get you shouted out the speed score…
It was half way through the session and I had a perfect opportunity, I had seen the others do this countless times as the wave is coming up on the stern, they wack the back end into the wave and hey presto … Zoooom. All my efforts so far have not quite worked and I just couldn’t get the feel for it. However this time I wacked the back end in and then boom, surfing … All I could do was say yeeehaa. Then look and see a 6.8, get in! Almost a Severn which I have been wanting to say for ages in the catch phrase from strictly come dancing.
Feeling rather pleased and confidence building. It was not long before another opportunity arose. The waves building around us and the want from both of us not to get soaked (which would happen if it went wrong). I swung the stern in and boom off she went, we surfed for what felt like ages, the adrenaline in me was flowing and oh yes a 9.8! I quickly then swung the bow back onto alignment to maximise full speed. Guin seemed impressed and I think i had the best compliment… She said it was like ‘God like steering’! It was one session to remember, partially as I got the highest surf speed out of Guin and I, not that we are competitive or anything, and I am now far less tentative about hand steering. Happy Days!