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April 2010

course out to a concrete limnological tower in the middle of the lake and back towards a couple of buoys near the water sports headland. DaveS lent his boat to a new member who hadn't managed to complete his own boat before the meet but had come along anyway to see what we were about. JanP carried his young daughter as a passenger in her boat. In the afternoon I buddied up with JohnS and AndyW and we followed most other members across to the angling centre near Edith Weston, where cream teas were available. We arrived quite late and most members had already left or were preparing to leave as we arrived. We were conscious of the 6:30 p.m. 'curfew' (the time that the water sports centre closes), when we had to be off the water, but were determined to enjoy the promised tea and cakes. In the end we were just able to complete the return journey and beach our boats before the deadline, shepherded by one of the safety boats whose crew was clearly eager to get off duty.

Andy and John had both made some modifications to their boats over the winter in order to prepare them for the Five Lochs Expedition in May (report to follow). Andy had fitted outriggers while John had fitted fore and aft through-deck storage. So on Sunday morning I proposed that we conduct a capsize drill some time during the day. They agreed and we let meet organiser Steve know of our plans. He had decided to delay the start of the race so invited other members to take part in the capsize drill, if they wished, while waiting. Rutland is probably the safest place to practise but no one else was keen to try, which I think is a pity. Knowing how easy it is to right one's boat gives you a lot of confidence and makes boating that much more enjoyable. Our practice was worthwhile as John found his modifications had made it much more difficult to right his boat, while Andy found righting his boat easier with his outriggers fitted. He did, however, find that they made paddling more difficult, as his paddle would hit them, so he experimented during the weekend with a double paddle and different lengths of single paddle before finding the ideal setup (short single paddle). John's comment: "I'll just have to make sure I don't capsize" and to this end he fabricated and fitted his own outriggers before the expedition.

The race, over a triangular course, started in light wind, which eventually died completely. As I sat becalmed at the back of the pack I was almost tempted to give up and head for shore but thought I'd at least let the others cross the finishing line before I threw in the towel. In the event a breeze sprang up, which was just enough to get me round the final buoy and ease me across the line. I seem to be in a minority within the OCSG in thinking that sailing canoe racers should be permitted to use both sail and paddle at will. There seems no point (to me) in sitting motionless in your boat when you have a perfectly good means of propulsion at your disposal. Certainly, during any expedition or when not racing, I always appear to be the first to reach for the paddle. This is probably because the Raptor is such an easy boat to paddle and even to paddle-sail, with its pedal steering freeing up both hands for paddling.

I compiled a short (5-minute) video of the weekend at Rutland (right).

I sent my drysuit back to Kokatat in the Autumn to have the torn neck seal replaced. Although the cuffs were still OK, I decided to have them

Video clip: Large/small

replaced at the same time. It turned into an expensive saga thanks to the UK tax laws. What I didn't realise before sending it off was that I would be charged import duty and VAT on the original (new) value of the dry suit, plus shipping costs, when it was returned to me, and not just on the costs of the repair. These charges had to be paid before the repaired suit was handed over by UPS and it then became a five month battle to reclaim the excess tax paid. I had to study UK tax regulations (Outward Processing Relief!!) and argue my case strongly before UPS finally refunded me some of the tax charges. The table below summarises the repair costs:

Description

$

GBP

Notes

Shipping UK > US (Royal Mail International Parcel Standard)

49.49

Parcel weight: 2.5 kg

Enhanced insurance

12.00

Valuation of GBP 500

Kokatat repair

94.00

58.03

Shipping US > UK

46.43

28.67

UPS delivery

58.12

Eventual tax refund

(21.01)

Total

185.30

For comparison, the OCSG arranged a group purchase of Typhoon drysuits in 2008. The price to members was about GBP 200, so clearly the price I ended up paying for my drysuit repair made no sense. Next time I will buy replacement seals from Kokatat and either change them myself or have them done professionally in the UK.

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