Accessible racing for all


Case study: Priory Sailing Club

Priory Sailing Club is situated on a lake, formerly a gravel pit in Bedfordshire set in the 68-acre Priory Country Park and nature reserve. It is a small, friendly club run by the members.

The club has a ‘Lazy Sunday’ programme  that  runs  once  a  month  April – October usually on the last Sunday of the month for an hour. Priory SC was trying to find a way of introducing racing to those that did not race and to make them feel comfortable about racing. Lazy Sundays is a race transition process. Normally 3 short races no longer than 10 to 15 minutes around a very short course. There are lots of prizes, normally chocolate bars etc, it’s not about racing to PY handicap as the races are very short. It is also not a series of races, though at the end of the season some overall results have been published.

The objective is to learn something new from each race, at the beginning there is a small amount of time spent on:

  • Explaining a new rule
  • Something about the course
  • How those at the back could improve

There is a debrief at the end as to why the winner won, what they did right, these sessions require an hour at the end of the days racing. A small team of experienced racers are recruited, ideally a race coach if one is available. There are safety boats afloat and coach boats to offer encouragement during the race. Getting people to help out has been quite easy especially if you rotate the team around or have a number of teams to help out.

Example Race One

Introduction to the course making sure everybody understands where they are going.

Telling the participants how the sails are likely to be on each of the legs. It should be remembered that often this type of programme might be attractive to those having just passed RYA Level 1 or Level 2, that want to race. 

Short introduction to the start line and the importance of a good start.

Lots of encouragement to the various helms during the starting countdown, Priory uses 10, 5,4,1 and in the last minute every 15 seconds. The race officers call out lots of timings asmany people don’t possess a stopwatch.

Somebody is on the  water in a coach boat to help people around the course also offering advice to the back markers on the 5 essentials.

Example Race Two

Talk about some basic rules e.g. Starboard & port - give some real examples possibly from race one.

Unless the course is being changed for reasons of wind, we recommend that you use the same course for all three races.  This allows one less variable and helps people measure their own performance.



  • Could be more challenging to implement at a coastal club or some clubs where it’s not very easy to get ashore after each race.
  • Results


  • When Priory started the sessions they had 10 boats for the first month, now they have in excess of 35.
  • There has been an increase after the first season in people joining in the main racing which was the clubs priority.