What a cracker – Teesdale Sailing Club Open Day a big success!

Posted on May 18, 2014 12:00 am


What a cracker – Teesdale Sailing Club Open Day a big success!

Planning an Open Day when you have limited facilities and two of your key members away is not easy. There is the admin, food and drink to organise, dinghies to check, fuel to purchase, safety boats to ready and make sure are manned, a beach master to appoint and then you have to decide who will take visitors out for a sail and what sort of rig is most appropriate.

All week the weather watchers were weather watching. Will it be too windy? Will it be wet? Will anyone even turn up?

Well, we need not have worried, the weather was just about perfect, a good breeze, sunshine, summer temperatures and a lot of willing people wanting to try out sailing for the first time.

Teesdale Sailing Club fame must be spreading – probably something to do with the petition we are running to secure funding for much needed improvements (over 300 names now so if you have not signed up yet, check out our website!).

The morning session is best described as “lively” with the boats used to take out visitors being well reefed to spill some of the wind. The warm force 4 winds were just the ticket and the force 6 gusts certainly spiced things up.

The Bosun from Durham School (that’s the name of a type of boat and not our club bosun, ChrisD, who fixes things and was away for the day!) was certainly enjoying the conditions. Helm Richard was later heard saying that the boat had probably never been sailed quite so fast before.

The only unplanned action involved the launching of the clubs very old wooden GP14. This was about to depart from the beach with club stalwart David at the helm and two ladies from Aycliffe Village when the centreboard refused to lower (not good).

A sudden gust hit the boat and swept beach master Tony off his feet into deep water where the only sensible option was to board the boat, much to the surprise of our ladies!

Now, four adults in a GP14 is a bit cosy and so after the problem was resolved (a lot of foot stamping was involved), Tony was unceremoniously dumped into the water to be returned to his station by one of the nearby safety boats!
After lunch the afternoon session started with lighter winds and the gusts had become less severe. Good sunshine meant that family members that were not sailing were able to watch the action from shore.

The session began with a demonstration by two of our Johns on how to crew a safety boat in warm weather. John 1 departed from the beach in the Dory and John 2 swam out and climbed aboard. I think the plan must have been to test the man overboard drill and the effectiveness of the Dory boarding ladder, something that had already been done by Tony that morning. Still practice makes perfect, as they say!

All told, 40 visitors ventured out and came back in one piece, although some were a little damp and were glad of a change of clothing and a welcome mug of tea!

Was the day a success?

The answer is a resounding yes – the support received from the residents of Teesdale and the surrounding area was excellent and several visitors signed up for membership and for our RYA Sailing Course being run on 14th and 15th June.

The other big news story of the week is that the club is about to take delivery of 5 Oppie dinghies, with funding support from the John Merricks Sailing Trust.

OK so what’s an Oppie?

It looks like a floating bath tub with a sail but that is really not a fair description. It is the largest class sailing dinghy in the world and the sort of boat you put your youngster in and push them off to see how they cope. Eventually (usually after about an hour) their sailing ability is way beyond that of an adult and generally stays that way for ever – no fear, you see!

Many of the top sailors start in Oppies – including Olympic Champions like Ben Ainsley.

Put a 6 year old in an Oppie and just watch what happens – to start its chaos, graduating to water dodgems and finally off they go. So, if you want your youngsters to try sailing – watch our website www.teesdalesc.co.uk for Oppie sessions on the first Saturday of each month (weather permitting).

Finally, we should report the launching of the smallest boat ever to sail on Grassholme (yes it’s actually smaller than an Oppie!). This was provided by Alan, a visitor to our Open Day. He launched one of his model sailing boats and provided a demonstration of what it can do.

Next week we return to our regular Sunday sailing schedule so if you want to see some racing action, come along. Some members have yet to race this season and the competition could be fierce.