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Rod Smith

Coming from a family, who sailed cruising yachts in the Firth of Clyde, my first strong memory is at seven when we lost the mast on the boat. Coming in second place while racing on a Sonata in the Cove Regatta at ten, and competing in West Highland week at fourteen, are also vivid memories for me when I was younger. But it was only later on sailing with the Ocean Youth Trust (OYT) and seeing the passion for sailing of people like Nick Fleming, Trevor Farrah etc. who I worked under there, that I came to realise that I wanted to do the same thing.

Becoming an OYT bosun, and then working my way up through the ranks to first mate, as I learnt from those with whom I sailed with in most of the UK fleet. Allowing me to compete in the Tall Ship Races with the OYT’s ‘James Cook’ and Gordonstoun’s ‘Ocean Spirit of Moray’ to visit Norway, Belgium, France and Spain. The strong desire to sail, and teach others of this joy and sense of freedom had by the time I was twenty-five, fully seeped into my blood.

Making this idea a reality has brought a variety of different kinds of jobs as diverse as cruising in the Whit Sundays in Australia, overseeing the build of a large ‘Falcon’ motor cruiser then delivering/cruising it from Italy round the Mediterranean through Suez Canal to the Red Sea. To teaching sailing in the Canaries and also unfortunately delivering several yachts, that were quite often very close to falling apart.

Some of my highlights have come from the more performance orientated boats, racing a Farr 65 and sailing in the Maxi’s Drum, Ragamuffin and Rothmans. However charging downwind in 90 tons of gaff schooner ‘Spirit of Fairbridge’ also “floats my boat”.

This will be Rods 10th season at Cumbrae and he has continued to develop his profession al qualifications over this this time. Rod recognizes that watersports skills are not just for leisure but important for the professional element of the maritime market. This has been very much the drive behind his involvement in creating and delivering the 18 week Professional Yachtmaster Training Course. Where better to learn the skills than the west coast of Scotland and certainly at the end any successful candidate will be ready for adventures under ail.

Top Tips.

Having often been involved sailing large yachts, my first tip may help if you are maneuvering a strange yacht out from a marina (especially if you have to go out astern!). Before leaving start the engine and go astern provided the boat is still tied up well. Then, look over each side of the boat, to check what the turbulence from the propeller looks like. If there is greater turbulence coming from the starboard side, the stern of the boat will turn opposite and go to port, when you first go astern. This paddle wheel (prop walk!) effect lasts until the boat is moving, and the rudder starts to work, with laminar flow from the moving water. A useful thing to know and might change how you leave your berth!

KST is what I try to get people to remember, before they make any changes (lowering or reefing) on a hoisted mainsail i.e. K… kicking strap (or vang!) loosened, S… sheet loosened and T… topping lift tightened.
Being in charge when running sailing boats, I’ve found that I have to be much better organized and delegate far more, as the boat increases in size.

Finally, apart from tasting good, fresh carrots can make a very good bung, if you have any trouble with your seacocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rods favorite piece of clothing kit which seem to be a part of him are his Goretx Trainers – “they can be used for anything from cruising, power boating, windsurfing and even in the gym!”

On a free afternoon, given the choice to get afloat with any piece of equipment Rod would select a windsurf as he is keen to develop his own abilities in this watersports activities.

Rod brings to the Centre great enthusiasm, skills and knowledge. His commitment to delivering high quality courses and working in line with industry requirements is valued. He not only looks after activities in float but campaigns the use of the gym by our guest and the island residents.

Our Staff