Two new club dinghies were named at a fun naming ceremony and over twenty guests new to sailing were given the opportunity to try the sport of dinghy sailing for the first time.
MP Nick Gibb and West Sussex County Councillor Hilary Flynn witnessed the naming ceremony accompanied by a host of sailors and friends of Felpham Sailing Club along with the visitors taking part in the RYA initiative Push The Boat Out aiming to encourage more people into the sport of sailing.
Over the winter a lot of work has been done behind the scenes by Commodore Ross Fisher and Training Principal Roger Belton to raise money and generate sponsorship for two new Laser Pico training dinghies. Butlin’s and local letting agent Abacus came up trumps with substantial sponsorship, which together with a grant from Felpham Parish Council enabled the purchase of these two dinghies. David Rowe (Vice Commodore) said at the naming ceremony “we are extremely grateful to all of our sponsors for the their generous support of our initiatives to increase participation in sailing particularly among local families”.
After the two dinghies were splashed with the obligatory ceremonial bubbly, “Butlin’s Delight” and “Letz Sail” were rolled down the ramp for their first venture into the sea.
It was a windy day for sailing and the waves were interestingly large calling for skill in dinghy handling and also confidence on behalf of the helms taking out our guests for the day one at a time. With over twenty guests to take out for joyrides there were another four Picos and two RS Fevas taking out the would be sailors, many of them sailing for the first time. With sailors aged between 9 and 65 and both sexes represented, it was an experience for all.
The first wave of joyriders set off directly from the beach however subsequent sailors were picked up off the beach by one of the club powerboats operating a taxi service between the beach and the sailing area. This procedure maximised the sailors time out on the water and also gave them an experience of going in a powerboat through waves.
As the sailors came back from their experience, all of them very wet and some quite cold, everyone one of them had a big smile and enthused with the experience. A hot shower followed by a hot drink and cake quickly warmed the sailors up again. All of the visitors loved the sailing with favourable comments of the experience, one commenting “what a professional group you are!”.
All of the dinghy helms in charge of looking after the guests, caring for them on the sea and making sure they were safe and had fun were aged between 13 and 17, many of them Assistant Instructors. On the power boats, two drivers were aged 14 and 17, both girls. Roger Belton said “Today is a tremendous testament to those who dedicate their time to ensuring that everyone who sails at Felpham has a fun time and enjoys the experience. This ethic has seen a surge in membership and a vibrant youth section with over 90 enrolled. Many of the youngsters have been trained as Assistant Instructors and Instructors, happily passing on their skills and knowledge both to the next generation coming through and adults new to the sport. Dinghy sailing is great for adults and youngsters alike. For all participants it offers a great pathway for learning, self reliance, skills development, decision making, responsibility and risk awareness; all skills that are relevant in all walks of life and particularly helpful for young people as they grow up to take their place in society”.
If you want to know more about sailing at Felpham go to our website at www.felphamsailingclub.co.uk visit us at Blakes Road Felpham on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday evenings or over the weekend, or call Roger Belton on 01243 587883.