The Scots were here!

by Reinhard Bartsch

For years, the Hochsauerlandkreis has a lively exchange with its Scottish partner council West Lothian. Next to numerous cultural meetings, there were sport exchanges in football, golf and swimming. In 2008, the Scots asked whether and exchange in the area of sailing would be conceivable. And quickly, a link to the head of the Seglergemeinschaft Möhnesee Südufer (SMS – Möhnesee sailing community) Uli Papencordt has been set up, who works for the Hochsauerlandkreis as deputy head of the Kreismusikschule.

After a long time of preparation by Karin Rusche from YCWA, Uli Papencordt and youth offcer Reinhard Bartsch, the time has fnally come on 10th August 2009: the Scottish youngsters from West Lothian were on the way to the Möhnesee.

Ten youngsters from the RFCM were impatiently and some­what uncertainly awaiting the arrival of the Scots. The youth offcer had many questions to answer: “Can they sail at all?” “Do we allow them on our boats?” “Are they perhaps going to wear kilts?” “How are we supposed to speak with them?” But the hosts were not completely unprepared! They had printed out the main sailing expressions in English from the internet, the dictionary was ready at hand. And: “We were hoping that the visitors would understand our English, but most especially that they wouldn’t speak a distinctive dialect.”

Members of the youth sailing exchange 2009

Members of the youth sailing exchange 2009

The tension was rising, and no sign of the „scotsmen and –girls” at 15 o’clock … Then we were informed that the Scots just reached the youth hostel and were moving into their rooms and that they would enjoy some coffee (or was it tea?) and cake after that. Shortly after 16 o’clock, they fnally came! Ten happy youngsters accompanied by their coach George and a camera man (yes, You read well, Chris was engaged to record the premiere on DVD), everybody ready in sailing clothes. A little uncertain, they entered the landing stage.

The shyness at the greeting quickly gave way to the curiosity about the boats. And much faster than expected, the Scots and the hosting kids were sitting together on the RFCM youngster boats, looking forward to the first hitches at  agreeable 3 Beaufort. Language problems? Not at all. The common base or language was sailing! After sailing for more than two hours, which were enough to break down all prejudices (as the Scottish kids can sail!), we had to get the boats ready for transport to the other side of the bridge. Quickly, the masts were folded down and the boats were taken in tow by two DLRG boats to the Yachtclub Westfalia Arnsberg. There we had a joint evening meal with the youngsters from the YCWA and the participants of the “Opti­Woche” that was taking place at that time.

After dinner, the „offcial” welcome followed, during which some basic rules for all participants of the sailing week to come were discussed. Then all participants received a bright blue t­shirt with the inscription “Sailing – simply the best”. After the first contact and some games, the youngsters walked back to the youth hostel.

Tuesday morning was under the banner of sailing together. The Scots and the eight participating kids from RFCM happily shared the youth boats, with mixed teams on each boat. In the afternoon, they visited the Möhnesee dam wall together. This interesting trip lead them deep into the moist and chilly inside of the dam (the biggest part of the necessary explanations was given in English). After so much activity and fresh air, the day ended quietly with the joint dinner.

On Wednesday morning, we went to the Lörmecke tower with the eight RFCM kids directly after breakfast. Unhappily for the “poor” kids or youngsters, this meant a march of about three kilometres to the lookout tower. But they were compensated by the broad view of the beautiful Sauerland – after all, the tower is 35m high. After this, they paid a compulsory visit to the partner district Hochsauerlandkreis, where they were friendly welcomed by the deputy Kreis­direktor Winifried Stork. Having finished their lunch in the canteen of the Meschede Kreishaus, they visited or rather walked across the Winterberg bob run in heavy rain. The kids could put their theoretical knowledge into practice on the summer toboggan run immediately. At 20 o’clock, every­body returned to the youth hostel.

Thursday started with sailing together and practicing eagerly for the regatta. The boat crews were mixed “internationally” again. After the tasty lunch, the first regatta rounds were carried out already.

In the evening, the youth hostel’s skittle alley was intensively used by the participating youngsters. The teams were mixed again, with one Scot and one German acting as the two team leaders. After the almost unbeatably exciting “skittles thriller”, the very narrow team victory went to the group led by the Scottish “chief”. Therefore the Scottish sailors could take the cup home to the island. But next year, the cup will go back to the Möhne – the narrowly defeated team is sure of that. Not all of the youngsters wanted to leave the Scots after the skittles, David and Michael stayed in the youth hostel overnight.

And on Friday morning, they made long faces! The Möhnesee was smooth as glass, with no wind at all, absolutely nothing! It was good that the first regatta rounds had taken place the day before. Some very stalwart ones could not be stopped from going to the lake with a few boats, but it was a sad languishing. Fortunately, around noon a little wind came up, so that the boats could still move a little bit.

Before the presentation ceremony in the afternoon, some parents and companions had to prove that they, too, are capable of mastering diffcult tasks in the world of sailing. Two teams were formed to compete with each other. The task was to free a charming princess first, then to bring the children back to the landing stage and fnally, to prove themselves in a tug­of­war. All that sounds very easy, but to free the princess from her boat, one had to walk over three joint surfboards first to reach her. And the tug-of-war was in a place inside the lake where nobody was touching the ground again! “This really reminded me the show “Spiel ohne Grenzen” (game without limits). At least, all of us got shower chips after that, so that we could warm up again”, youth offcer Reinhard Bartsch remembers.

At the formal presentation ceremony attended by the deputy heads of both participating sailing clubs, no one went away empty­handed! Everybody received a medal and different sponsored gifts like torches or USB sticks. The evening finished off with a joint barbecue.

On the last day, the Scots and the youngsters from the RFCM participated together in the summer regatta of the SMS. Due to a fortunately high number of participants of the regatta, it was quickly agreed that the youngsters should be judged separately, which meant staggered starts. The first round started at 11:30 o’clock. Half an hour after the last boat had crossed the fnish, the second exciting regatta round followed. In victorious mood, everybody then enjoyed the fortifying grilled food, and the kids had the chance to let off steam on the nice SMS premises.

At the presentation ceremony, every participant received  a medal again. After a slightly sentimental review of the very successful week, the hosts insisted on giving George and Chris some regional specialties for going, too. Most  especially the “Chris water” is to be mentioned here –  a new term for a popular German hop drink that camera man Chris had especially warmed up to.

And then, until late into the night, everybody celebrated the regatta, the successful youth exchange, the many new posi­tive impressions and the friendships developing among the children, youngsters and companions from both countries in particular.

The result for the sailing community: a totally successful cheerful and exciting week, in which certainly many prejudices were broken down and friendships built up. The initial scepticism turned into enthusiasm! Since the first visit in 2009, reciprocal visits are taking place every year.