60 new sailors through training at Sidmouth

The summer sun has coincided with a busy period for the Sidmouth Sailing Club both on and off the water, writes Keith Brodie.

In the last week of the Sidmouth College summer term, it provided three days sailing for 20 of the college students as part of their activities week. The weather conspired to provide a sunny few days but it was quite windy which gave the students lots of challenges to overcome. As most had not sailed before, many found the experience exciting to say the least.

The club also completed the taster sessions for young sailors. Intended to be held over a period of six weeks on Friday evenings, the plans had to be changed due to too much wind which was usually also from the wrong direction! At times the organisers thought that they would never complete the series, but they did manage it by moving sessions to Sunday mornings.

With the training course that ran earlier in the season, it has meant the club has provided a sailing experience and training for nearly 60 individuals and 50 of those are all youngsters aged from 9 or 10 through to 15. Sailing is a disciplined sport and the training associated with it is itself disciplined and structured. The club believe that it teaches far more than just a sports skill and, as a seaside town, proves the value to the community of the sailing club. All of the training is provided by the club’s own instructors and volunteer helpers who give up a lot of their own time and a big vote of thanks goes to all of them.

?Last Wednesday, the wind did the exact opposite of what it has been doing all of the season up until now and dropped off to just about nothing. Fortunately, it was a beautiful evening and a group of the juniors took to the water to ghost about on flat calm waters disturbed only by the shoals of jumping mackerel.

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Many of the adult members, unable to sail because of the conditions, took to the water in kayaks and others got the fishing rods out. It is on nights such as this that it is a real pleasure to belong to the club and the social members also enjoyed the perfect evening with a drink from the bar on the balcony overlooking the Esplanade.

?Saturday was altogether a much better affair with some close racing. Conditions were excellent for the first race and, although the wind increased for the second race, competition in each of the Laser and Scorpion fleets was fierce. Chris Clapp with Richard Paterson crewing, seemed to enjoy keeping the other Scorpions at bay as did Alex Hayman with his Laser.

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?Sunday saw the club’s Topper Open event. In the past we have been chosen to host one of the SW Topper Travellers series and the Open has been on the same day but this year the TA took the event elsewhere. Sidmouth hope to have it back again next year. Despite having only young sailors from the club wanting to take part, it was turned into a coaching session. John Keast, the race officer, spent time before going on the water explaining some of the finer points of how to get the best start and provided practice starts before each of three races. The sailors all seemed to enjoy the day and learnt a lot.

Connor Fitch won the regatta, winning each race. One of the juniors who has only started sailing this year was young Charlie Smith who, despite being probably the lightest sailor in the fleet, managed to keep his boat mostly upright in a very gusty wind.

Race officials thought him the most improved. A big thank you again to everyone who helped on the day.

Thanks also must go to Paul and Kath Channing and their family for organising an Italian night themed supper to raise funds for the refurbishment of the club house. An excellent meal was enjoyed by all who attended and we are all looking forward to next theme night after the summer holidays. Paul and Kath won’t tell us yet what the theme will be but I’m banking on sombreros having a part to play.

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