Water Activities Day at the National Sailing Academy, Portland

(by Dylan & Jack)

We went to the National Sailing Academy near Portland on a warm, calm, sunny day looking forward to a day of raft building and sailing.

There were some nice changing facilities where we got into our wetsuits. We then met Harry and Darren from the Weymouth & Portland Adventure who had arranged our day.

The first activity was rafting. We split into two teams and had to make the rafts out of barrels, poles and ropes. I’ve never made one before, so it was very interesting. Both teams built similar rafts. When we had finished building them, we took our rafts to the water and they FLOATED!

Practicing our pioneering skills
Attaching the barrels

We then got on the rafts with our paddles and spent about 20 minutes paddling around the harbour before the two teams raced each other. The races were very close and it ended up 3 wins each. I loved racing against the other team, the best race was probably racing without any paddles which was also a new experience. I liked that race because it was a challenge and in the end we had to get in the water and it was so hard because I had to use my hands and legs.

Two teams paddling in the harbour
Doing the ‘Jacuzzi Challenge’

We then did some jumping into the sea which was very cold and salty.

Geronimo!
Splosh!

After a lovely lunch in the sunshine we went to the wet house and got our helmets and buoyancy aids on then walked down to the Laser Pico’s boats and met Rachel. She explained how the equipment worked and taught us the basics of sailing. She showed how moving the rudder would change our direction and when turning, the person steering had to switch seats to the other side of the boat.

We then launched the boats from their stands into the water. The minute we set off the wind caught our sail and I went flying off the edge of the boat and we capsized! Luckily Finley stayed in the boat and managed to pull me back aboard. The second time I went in, was when I changed direction and tried to move to the other side of the boat but the sail turned around and the boom caught my head and I was catapulted into the sea!

Catching some wind!

Fortunately, the safety boats were always nearby and the instructors taught us how to capsize safely and right our boats again.

Safety boats were always nearby

I loved sailing because I’ve never sailed on a boat before and I especially loved the tight turns we did. On one we flipped over the boat deliberately, despite the water being freezing. At one point we really caught the wind and our boat went so fast, if we did the slightest movement we would have gone in an entirely different direction.

When we had been on the water for over an hour, we went back into the dock and pulled the boats ashore. Harry showed us how to roll the sail away and we wheeled the boats onto dry land.

It was great fun learning how to sail the Lasers and everyone had got the hang of it by the end of the afternoon.

New olympians in the making!

It was a lovely sunny day and we really enjoyed it. We finished the day with a photo of us all under the Olympic rings. Thank you Daniel for organising such a great activity. Can’t wait till the next one!