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University days.

As a mature student, well in age anyway, I found myself in halls of residence with a fantastic crowd who were all keen sports enthusiasts. Over the time at Uni I found myself playing football, golf and a number of racket sports for my Hall, and during the long periods of recess a group of us would go down to either Cornwall or Wales to surf or sail – both wind and dinghy. Not being an accomplished windsurfer, many times I would be found dragging the board hundreds of yards back to my starting point. However sailing up and down the Camel estuary I would intentionally try to capsize the Laser dinghy with the thought of getting my passenger flying out from the stern of the boat, something she did magnificently well on her own when we were sailing at Windsford Flash lake and their club captain had ‘demanded’ that the boat come to shore as they were starting the races for the day. The picture of her ending up in the water while the dinghy went half way up the shore remains with me to this day. My only experience of getting into larger boats / yachts came when her father offered to take us over to France in his yacht. We all duly set off from their house in Exmouth, got to the boat and sat waiting for the tide to turn so there was sufficient water below the keel for us to leave. While waiting the shipping forecast was heard and all plans were soon put on hold. Gale force winds were imminent and, with an inexperience crew, me, it was decided to wait until the forecast improved. Back to the shore, house and a few drinks. The following day the weather seemed to improve so we returned to the yacht and set off, not for France but to Torbay. Yes, the weather had improved but it was still blowing a good 6. The main sail was fully reefed and it was quite an experience getting into the harbour at Torbay. A good sleep and the return leg were made under engine power. Hardly a drop of wind all the way back. So, it was decided, I would take up sailing.

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