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Plain sailing for Staffordshire landlubbers with free taster sessions

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: April 20, 2014

  • NOVICE...Reporter Gail Atkinson in front of the Laser 2000 she crewed and helmed

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SAILING is cheaper than going to the cinema and it’s great fun but be warned it could be addictive according to one aficionado.

Next month (May) budding sailors can try their sea legs out free as part of the Royal Yachting Association’s Push the Boat Out event.

People of all ages and abilities across Staffordshire will be invited to have a go at sailing and windsurfing when the county’s sailing clubs and watersports centres open their doors for national RYA Push the Boat Out weekend next month.

Whether you’re completely new to the sport or looking to get back on the water after a break away, Staffordshire clubs, including Rudyard Lake SC, Manor Park SC and Greensforge SC, will be amongst hundreds of sailing clubs and centres nationwide welcoming all-comers on May 17 and 18.

Open days, have-a-go sessions and family fun events are all taking place as part of the even, with many of the events free.

Within five minutes of arriving at Rudyard Lake Sailing Club (RLSC) it was out on the water with one of the club’s most successful partnerships Eric Haselden, 52 and his partner Julie Antony, 52, on their albacore Mystic Blue.

The couple favour more challenging weather conditions and techniques and as the boat lurched this way and that and the water reached the top of the boat I waved goodbye to my stomach.

Their sailing style has paid dividends for them – two years ago they swept the board at the club’s annual awards event, winning so many prizes organisers had to find a novel way to present them.

“We had 17 trophies so they brought them on in a wheelbarrow,” said Mr Haselden.

Things were a lot calmer in the motorised safety boat with power boat bosun Alan Evans.

The 72-year-old said sailing was a good pursuit for families.

“I’ve tried playing golf and it’s very singular so I decided to go sailing. You can progress to bigger boats. We have chartered yachts and been to Greece as a family.”

The chance to get hands on was the real high point of the evening and under the tutelage of club president Tricia Ordsmith it became clear why sailing is such a buzz for those involved.

Several turns around the lake crewing the Laser 2000 was a long-dreamed-of thrill and a stint at the helm doing figure of eight turns was the icing on the cake.

All too soon it was over and time to dismantle the boat but hopefully the first time won’t be the last – did someone say sailing was addictive.

One person who did get hooked is teenager Toby Sanderson, of Lake Road, who at 16 is the youngest member of Rudyard Lake Sailing Club.

“I started because they had an open day. My dad and sister and I came and we all took it up. Sailing is an enjoyable experience and something you don’t usually do. It’s a new experience for a lot of people and it’s quite addictive when you get into it.”

Mrs Ordsmith said: “Communication is the main thing because if you don’t communicate that’s when things can go wrong but it’s important to have fun too.”

Club member Mike Raine, who has been sailing for decades, said: “It’s a good healthy outdoor sport. It’s not expensive to get started. You can join for a family for £320 and you can hire boats for six or seven pounds a day. The best bet is to have a course to learn the basics of how to sail. Going sailing is cheaper than going to the cinema every week. If the bug bites you can buy a quite reasonable boat for £500.”

As well as taking part in the PTBO events the club has an open day on May 5 from 11am to 4pm. For more information see rlsc.rudyardlakesc.org.uk.

Gareth Brookes, RYA regional development officer for the Midlands, said: “We want the local community to get down to a club, have a go at sailing and windsurfing, see what the club has to offer and get involved. Who knows you might just get hooked.”

Duncan Truswell, RYA sport development manager, said: “This is the perfect chance for people to discover their local sailing club, meet like-minded people, have a go at the sport, find out how much fun it is, and how easy it is to get involved.”

Events will be taking place at clubs including Blithfield Sailing Club, Rugeley (www.blithfield.org.uk); Greensforge Sailing Club, Gailey (www.greensforge.org) and Telford Sailing Club (www.telfordsailingclub.co.uk).

For other clubs and full details of all RYA Push the Boat Out events visit www.rya.org.uk/go/ptbo.

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