Easter Sailing School 2023: a child’s-eye view
The sun was out when we got down to the sailing club so it would be good weather for sailing. When we arrived, the first thing I did was go to the bar. The bar was our area for briefings and debriefings. From there we met our instructor Elysia. We all thought of nick-names to write on our life jackets and mine was Alice in a palace. Next we walked to the dinghy park and helped each other drag our boats onto the gravel where we learned how to rig them properly. After lunch we practiced tacking on shore in a boat which was on its trailer. We did get a little sailing in the corner of the broad where we had a go at tacking around buoys. I was exhausted after just one day! How was I to manage a whole week?!
For the next two days we practiced reaching from one buoy to another, some people in partners and some people alone. I was on my own and I found reaching quite easy.
However, the next day we did a figure of eight course and that wasn’t so easy because we had to go head to wind which was challenging. But eventually it came to Friday. Firstly, we did a scavenger hunt as a team work challenge. Next, we played a game in the top car park before lunch. At the end of the day we did sprit races round buoys and spritted in for prize giving. I loved the sailing course as an opportunity to improve my skills, make new friends and work as part of a team.
By Alice Aitken (aged 10 years)
Easter Sailing School 2023: a parent’s-eye view
Picture the scene – it’s ten to nine on the Monday morning of the Easter sailing course, the eagerly awaited first morning of the new season. The dinghy park is full to bursting with oppies, toppers, fevas and all sorts of other luminescent dinghies that didn’t exist in 1994, when I was last at the club for the Easter sailing course. Other than the plethora of exciting, transom-less, high performance boats replacing the leaky, wooden mirror dinghies, the only other thing to have changed is the snow and frostbite I fondly remember from the mid-90s has turned into bright sunshine.
Alongside the exhibition of designer dinghies, there is a mass of excited children (much the same as in 1994, but with slightly fewer yellow sou’westers) and a swarm of anxious looking parents, desperately hoping they will remember how to rig an oppy and what all those seemingly random pieces of brightly coloured dyneema are for. At this point, with both of our children undertaking their first ever sailing course, and neither of their oppies having seen the light of day since early October, Laura and I are in full panic mode, hoping to bluff our way through rigging with the rest of the parents. When we finally make it to the sanctuary of the clubhouse, having eventually won the battle to squeeze four little feet into their wet boots, it is time for the briefing. At this point it all changes. The club demonstrates the great value of its new policy to find anyone they can with the name Ruth and put them in charge of something… After Alice and Jack both gleefully join Elysia for stage one, first Instructor Ruth and then Commodore Ruth lay out the aims of the week in enormously reassuring speeches. It is immediately clear that this will be a perfectly planned and targeted adventure for all of the children, irrespective of their different experience levels and abilities.
We wanted our children to gain confidence on the water and enjoy themselves throughout the week and they certainly did this. It was a real pleasure to hear the Ruths’ calming explanations of their aims for the week and even more so to witness it happening for all of the children involved. Alice and Jack came home each day having spent a great deal of time sailing, but also making friendships and helping each other to rig, launch and look after their boats. I also had a wonderful time – Elysia’s expertise meaning my presence was really not needed in the slightest – so I could happily antifoul the BOD in the top car park and catch up with other parents, many of whom were the same people I shared this week with in 1994. The club was a refreshing mixture of past sailing course graduates and families new to the club. All of them, children, parents, grandparents, instructors and anyone else roped into helping, had proud smiles on their faces at the end of week prize giving, where all children achieved the Ruths’ aims of building confidence, enjoying themselves and improving their sailing.
By Chris Aitken (parent of two children on the course)