Originally written for Watford Boys Grammar School’s Magazine The Fullerian

Saturday 5th October: open day. Mr Post’s clarion call summons the zealous team of prefects, sixth-formers, and other people who just feel like being nice. The atmosphere buzzes with helpfulness and loyalty to the school. Pupils either support the school, or stay as far away as possible.

Yet several hours earlier, you would have met a different crowd: at 7am, the infamous WGSB sailing team arrived, there to take part in the National Schools Sailing Association’s yearly topper races. Enthusiasm, much like at the open day, was at a premium; yet we, unlike them, had extensive quantities of biscuits…

The weekend, as always, was fantastic. It’s hard to describe the euphoria of coming resoundingly last; just about everyone conceded that we were truly superior at losing nearly every race. There was a glorious moment when my team, the B team, was beaten by our own C team. But the highlight of the weekend? When we glanced at the results table and found, at one point, that we were losing out to a team that hadn’t even turned up. Curse our school for being so far down the alphabet…

In all seriousness though, I doubt anybody in the team would have missed the weekend for the world. The winds were consistently mediocre, but relative to last year – when nearly half of the races had to be cancelled – they were gale-force. The weekend was organised to a tee, and it is a real credit to Mrs Parks that, once again, we felt confident enough to put forward three teams, in a national event that in total included only twenty-four.

I’m never quite sure why I enjoy these events quite so much. It’s partly because of how much I love sailing; it’s partly because of the competitive spirit; and it’s partly because of how great it is to spend 2 days in the company of the awesome people who make up the sailing squad. Even if it does take you half an hour to persuade them to join you in the karaoke (which was not mentioned in the trip information…).

My team only won one race out of the eleven in which we competed in. Yet I feel we won it the right way. It was the last race of the weekend, and ten failures in a row were starting to get to us. But the wind was picking up. We were determined to give it one last shot – until disaster struck: a sudden gust and a mangled response caused me to capsize twice, a minute before the starting gun. Our prospects looked so bad, I considered retiring: I only passed the start line ten seconds within the time limit. Yet, we won. In the last leg of the race, I somehow managed to claw my way up to second place; with my teammates in first and fifth (out of six), it was a resounding victory, and one I doubt I’ll forget for while.

Once again, I can’t say how grateful I am to Mrs Parks and the other teachers who made the weekend happen.

From left: Josh Blake; Charlie Lee; Alex Waygood

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