Middle Nene SC in Northamptonshire, one-person Illusion keelboats have been
accepted into the club’s menagerie fleet to widen the sailing options for
The 12' singlehanded
mini-keelboat is ideal for the lake at Thrapston, and with 160kg ballast offers
good stability in all weathers, with a three-sail layout and host of trimming
and tuning options making for exciting sailing and closely matched racing.
There are Illusion fleets at Aldenham SC in Hertfordshire, Bembridge SC on the Isle of Wight and at West
Kirby SC on the Wirral – and the class has been adopted by Middle Nene SC to broaden
the variety of sailing available for new and existing members. Following a
successful trial over summer, the Illusion has joined Middle Nene SC’s existing
range of classic and asymmetric dinghies and Flying Fifteens.
spokesman Wilf Kunze, who suggested introducing Illusions having sailed them previously
at Aldenham, says: “We were looking at how to bring back sailors or bring new people into the
introduced Illusions as a second keelboat class to make racing attractive to a wider
range of people, thus not just shifting sailors within the classes but actually
bringing in/back extra sailors who were not currently racing. We now have three
Illusions at MNSC racing regularly and another boat will hopefully arrive in
The Illusions race with the Slow Handicap fleet, making it more exciting
for the club’s junior sailors because they have extra competition and adults to
race against, and as Wilf explains: “You can sail them in all weathers – while
others are fighting for survival, you look up and worry about your sail trim. It
brings in people who would find a racing dinghy a bit too challenging but can’t
sail a Flying 15 because they haven’t a crew or they’re just uncomfortable with
it because they feel it’s too big... people who are getting older or who just want
to be more comfortable or don’t want to capsize. We’ve had a lot of people
trying them out of all ages. It’s a pleasure to sail and good fun and it brings
in members that wouldn’t sail before or who we would have lost as active racing
Wilf plans to soon have a class boat at the club available to anyone who
would like to try Illusion racing while considering buying their own or waiting
for one to become available.
find out more about Middle Nene SC click here.
Club SB20s add Corporate Income and
Water SC in Warwickshire has added two SB20 keelboats to its
fleet of club boats to generate income from corporate days, maximise the use of
its facilities during the week, and diversify sailing opportunities for members
and the wider community.
are proving popular not only with business people but also with children’s
parties and groups of older people who might not otherwise get out on the water.
In addition, the keelboats will enable a broader spectrum of Start Sailing
courses and are expected to open up opportunities to develop keelboat and match-racing
skills for members and possibly through inter-club events for the region in the
The club bought the sportsboats in
summer and has so far hosted around 10 corporate days, with clients including
Severn Trent, Jaguar Land Rover and a property company.
Committee members approved a five-year
business plan with a generous budget to launch the project; the two SB20s were
chosen for many reasons, including being excellent value for
money second-hand. Having the right kit to attract the chosen market was
important, so a big chunk of the budget was also invested in buying kit for
customers to wear, including 20 sets of Gill waterproofs and new buoyancy aids.
The funding also covers staffing and training, cutting down two sets of sails
for windy days, and marketing.
The entire project is club-funded with
the expectation that it will break even well within the five years and generate
income and a range of opportunities going forward.
Water manager Dave Rowe says with the club open seven days a
week, with full-time staff, keeping busy and balancing the books required
thinking outside the box: “We
wanted to bring business people to us but didn’t want them to have to wear
wetsuits or training kit, or have them capsizing.
“This enables them to get out sailing
for a few hours in the Midlands, without having to go down to the south coast,
and without a major interruption to their working week. They can have a
meeting, conference or workshop at the club in the morning, using our lounge
and training rooms, then have lunch and go sailing in the afternoon.
“It provides the kind of team building
activity which companies like and we give them the opportunity to go sailing
and racing. They love it - they enjoy the boat and the sailing and that element
of competition. Very quickly they’re out there doing it and they’re not just
passengers – there’s string to pull and you have to move about.
“So far the feedback has been
excellent. Investing in the right kit makes a big difference – the boats look
sporty and the customers are wearing great offshore kit and look the part as
Corporate days can
have two teams of up to four in the boats plus a Draycote keelboat instructor
helming, and options include rotating participants through 20 minutes of racing, 20
minutes on a RIB running the racing, and 20 minutes ashore for a refreshment
break, over a three hour period. On windy days or if there’s just one boat out
it could be time trials.
Aside from businesses, those using the keelboats have included two
stag parties, organised in each case when the club was contacted speculatively
to see what activities might be available, and two pirate birthday parties for
children. Age UK has also hired the SB20s to provide sessions for its members.
All of this activity is generating not
only income for the club; it is generating interest in sailing and raising
awareness about Draycote Water SC in the wider community, which it is
hoped will also spin off into new memberships.
The aim is to eventually run the SB20s daily on the days when the club is not already
busy with members’ activities such as
Wednesday evening racing or Sunday club racing; while the SB20s are set to develop into an important source of finance for the club, it remains committed to putting its own members and their use of the water first.
Club members can hire the SB20s,
although again not during busy club times. And junior members recently had a
great time after being invited to jump aboard for a fun session; a video of the
occasion made by club member Andy
be seen here. Draycote hopes to use the SB20s to help members develop their keelboat and match racing skills.
“This year is all about trying it out
and seeing what’s possible, what works and doesn’t work. We’re definitely
pleased we’ve done it,” says Dave. “It’s about making the club busy Monday to
Friday when it’s not busy with club activity, which was a major selling point
to the committee, and it will make money.”
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