Brian Phipps Training Master Class at Shanklin
Have you noticed, or is it just me that I have often thought that the Sprint 15 mob from the light side of south island are a little bit “off the wall”? Individually they are affectionately peculiar, collectively they are a pack of hyenas on nitrous oxide waiting to pounce and insult any poor innocent victim passing within earshot! Previous unnatural behaviour I have witnessed is their mass raucous BBQs and their strange late night peacock strutting dancing displays! My suspicions were well founded when I stumbled into the Shanklin sail loft which I thought had a potent aroma, the likes of which I had not witnessed since my cultural visit to Amsterdam some years ago. Yes, to my surprise the southern corky’s appear to be mass cultivating “ganga” which now explains much of the above, chief horticultural expert was none other than Erling “Titchmarsh” Holmberg who, in an unconvincing attempt to allay my worst fears informed me that the carefully cultivated cuttings were intended to be planted externally for clubhouse security!!!
Saturday morning sunshine, a gentle F2-3 breeze and Brian Phipps arrive, we quickly have a round of introductions then its straight into a five day course condensed down to just two days. Brian communicates the exercises we will be undertaking on the water; mark rounding, tacking, gybing, transits, starting, approaching windward and leeward marks, and putting all of these disciplines into practice by short one-lap racing. Brian, from the training rib constantly filming and haling words of wisdom and encouragement, ensuring that our boat is trimmed correctly and basically working the pants off us all! The green flag raised after several hours on the water, sigh of relief for all, signal to return to shore for late lunch and debrief.
Working lunch looking at “you’ve been framed” footage of our individual efforts, much to the delight and amusement of the hysterical hecklers of Shanklin SC. Brian ensuring praise is passed on where appropriate and opportunities identified to improve technique, but most of all coaching the ideals of the individual skills necessary to extract maximum performance of the above exercises.
In the mid afternoon we launch and continue with more new exercises, what is becoming clear is that we are all improving, our techniques are becoming more fluid and although not perfect the benefit of Brian’s tuition is there for all to see. The gentle breeze dissipates all too early so we make our way ashore for a master class lesson (not to be missed) on mast bend and sail shape.
Brian from here on in known as “Popeye” (for the size and strength of his forearms) rather unluckily for Titchmarsh, Popeye chose his boat; 2007, turned it on its side then with the ensemble gathered at the top of the mast and “Popeye” at the bottom, pulled equally with right arm clutching “downhaul and left hand on clutching main sheet” huge wince and groans from the ensemble - tears from Titchmarsh, with consummate ease “Popeye” managed to put the top of the mast two foot off centre whilst stretching every sinew in the 2007 sail by going beyond block to block, ouch!!! This remarkable demonstration highlighted the relationship between mast bend and sail shape and how easy it is to close the leech and stall sail performance. Popeye continued for the next hour imparting his knowledge and experience and took time to answer our questions. Titchmarsh was last seen having a nervous break down lying in the sail loft next to his favourite cuttings!
Evening arrived all too early and it was time to visit our watering hole for the night located at the “Steamer Inn” for much needed sustenance and as can only be expected on these occasions the usual verbal banter at someone’s expense and I have to say superb company and camaraderie.
Sunday morning greeted us with perfect Sprint 15 conditions, a solid F4 and some superb waves whipped up by an easterly wind. Out on the water, Brian checked us out individually ensuring that we worked the boat hard upwind and took advantage of surfing the waves downwind. Most credible performance and captured on camera for ever was Stuart Pierce who under instruction from Brian to capture a BIG wave, gain speed then on its crest carryout a port gybe, at this point many a Sprint 15er would have gone deaf and elected not to hear Brian’s last instruction! Stuart though, is made of sterner stuff and executed the maneuver perfectly gaining a sling shot effect from the back of the wave and speeding away upwind much to the admiration of his fellow Sprint 15ers. We continued with more exercises in the testing conditions, which only helped to improve our seamanship skills under the care and watchful scrutiny of Brian’s coaching.
We took lunch and once again examined the “you’ve been framed” footage, which this time had more applause for improved technique and only the occasional fit of laughter from a maneuver carried out, not quite to text book. Sailing continued in the afternoon and before long it was time to review and wind up the weekend coaching, so what had we learnt?
Well, unless your name is George Carter, I recommend strongly that you get yourself on one of Brian’s “training sessions”. Speaking personally, to improve I need to accept that it will be a necessity to change the way I sail my Sprint 15 and try new techniques / methods, improve my boat handling / mark rounding and above all, work the boat harder and as a consequence work myself harder, podium positions don’t come easy on the Sprint 15 circuit. The training session in itself will not give you the magic formula which will gain you instant success, but what it will do with Brian’s help is identify opportunities so that you can take those learning’s away with the expectation that you practice those new found skills / techniques back at your sailing club until perfected, adopt those that work for you and try something different if they don’t.
Sunday evening and everyone was completely shattered, I have a long drive home but plenty to think about after a most enjoyable weekend. Many thanks to Shanklin SC, who organised the event and who were superb hosts and a barrel of laughs. Special thanks to Erling for B&B and the use of the “Bond boat; 2007” although I never new Erling had so many enemies; John Shenton, Simon Giles and Chris Read the power boat driver all took turns in attempting ramming maneuver’s until they got close enough to recognise it was their guest from the North! Finally, but not least, Brian for a superb coaching and informative weekend.
Attendees: John Shenton, Simon Giles, Stuart Pierce, Bob Baker Ian Bolton, Phil Davis, Will Baker, Daren & Henry Morris and Chris Read in With Brian……………..