written by Gerben Hartog on August 17 of 2020 and read by 120
It must have been early April when the phone rang. Hi Paul, I have an offer you can't refuse! A soling for a price even you can afford!
As this was not the first call and I'm aware of the Dutch Soling Association's ambitions to grow I did not decline the offer. I called my son, just 18 but with a couple of EU championships and local Dutch Soling events under his belt my best reference guide, to ask what to do. He declared me stark raving mad. Dad, we have a very good boat (1/4 tonner built in 1971) so why buy a Soling? This particular boat is not even near racing condition! To buy her now is cheap indeed but think of all the work needed to be done to get her back in reasonable shape. Furthermore this boat is not worth the domestic hassle it might cause!
OK, he is the expert but the offer was indeed too good to be true. Then I had, at the time, a brilliant idea. One of my regular racing crew on the ¼ tonner was looking for a family boat with lifting keel. Why not… I thought. So I called him and told him I found the boat he was NOT looking for. I also told him this particular soling had been used as a family boat and seen a lot of the western European coast. I could see his name written all over this project. A couple of days later he had taken the bait (and managed to convince “She.. who has to be obeyed”) and told me he was game. Unfortunately he demanded I would crew during races and show him how to sail this beauty. Oops, selling once crew a boat is one but being crew for him is another! Still, as it was a good deal and I accepted it with all consequences. WE are going to rescue this floating camping soling!
Collected the boat, with a nice 30 Kg outboard on the stern, and brought her to Noordschans. Sails without battens, trapeze and no hiking equipment. Yes, a true challenge for the new KAAS!! Team.
As soon as the COVID restrictions where lifted, the phone rang again. Hi Paul, we are now racing Solings on Wednesday evening on the Kralingse Plas, (a small lake, in the middle of a park very close to the city centre of Rotterdam). Is team KAAS!! game? Oh and by the way, you do not have to bring your own boat. I can help you and you may use my second boat. Brilliant plan!!! This way we can get organised and learn how to sail a soling even before we have the boat ready. Leo, my former crew who bought the camping soling based on my advice (and yes we are still friends!), and his teenage daughter liked the idea as well!
For the last couple of weeks we have been fortunate enough to race NED 39 around the cans on a Wednesday evening. Each race is a new challenge! Learning curve vertically vertical. I knew a soling is a beauty to look at and to sail but now I ‘m convinced it is almost magical! And the people who sail these beauties are a class on their own. In between races they even jump on board to give us advise on trim and boat-handling so we can keep up with the rest of the fleet! That is what I call real sportsmanship! On the water there is a fierce competition. The rules of racing are challenged and respected. Duels are fought and victories celebrated with respect and comradery.
So far team KAAS!! has managed to bring the red lantern across the line each race we sailed but due to all the advice the gap between us and the rest of the fleet is getting smaller and smaller. Yes all boats have to watch their tail in the weeks to come! It is wonderful to have an amber fluid with the rest of the fleet before the bar closes. We are absorbing all the advice and are working on a cunning plan to translate this advice into productive action. Our aim is to win the last race of the day so in a few weeks (or years) time we will be ordering first rounds!
Team KAAS!! (Paul Koch)
ps. YES, the boat will be yellow soon 😊, like cheese should be