Noumea Optimist Clinic 3rd to 7th September 2012
The Noumea optimist training squad of Guy van der Wilt, Greta Stewart, Max Gibbs, William Shapland, Tom Hyde, Logan Beckman, Rose McKenzie, Crystal Sun and Matt Wylie arrived in Noumea unsure of what was ahead of them, and with a little trepidation of being billeted by a local Noumean sailing family (ok, there was lots of trepidation!). What unfolded over the course of the week was a fantastic cultural and sailing experience which the young sailors will never forget.
The trip started for some on Sunday with a trip out to “Ilot Maitre “, a resort island some 5 miles off the coast of Noumea. The sailors enjoyed exploring the island and its wild life (including sea snakes!), playing volley ball and communicating with our French hosts in a mixture of French, English and sign language!
The sailing started on Monday. The SRC club facilities were purpose built for sailing and allowed rigs to be stored fully rigged, with easy access via a sandy beach to the sailing area. The weather was warm with temperatures between 22c and 25c, warm water and winds ranging from 5 knots to 25 knots. With conditions like this, the sailing was always very pleasant with even the windier days not intimidating for the lighter sailors. There was a definite French flamboyance to the coaching, starting off with some drills including sailing with eyes shut, then without rudders and this theme continued throughout the whole week with a load more cool drills.
On Wednesday evening, after a full days sailing, the sailors all jumped aboard a yacht and competed in some keel boat racing. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all and the competition intense. Some of the sailors had a chance to helm and William learnt that the bow position is a very wet one.
By the time Friday came around, the Kiwi sailors had built some strong bonds with their Noumean friends. The hospitality and generosity of the host families and the SRC club was wonderful and the cultural experience fantastic. The variety of the experiences was neat as well, with some sailors living on boat, while others were living on a lifestyle block some 30 km’s out of Noumea.
It was difficult to have to say goodbye to leave to come home. There were some tears and lots of promises to keep in touch.