Penarth Yacht Club is situated on the Severn Estuary in South Wales just outside of Cardiff. It has a strong membership and runs training and racing throughout the year for both youths and adults. It is an RYA Training Centre and has an active social calendar. The club also has some of the largest tidal ranges in the country but has successfully continued to maintain a competitive race fleet in the Enterprise fleet for many years.
The club has traditionally been an Enterprise club and runs a Sunday Series all year round, and in the summer increases this to a Wednesday night series and a Saturday series. Although the club had a strong enterprise fleet they realised that they were losing sailors who were unable to find crews or preferred racing in single handers. To combat this, the club started looking towards creating a single handed fleet of lasers.
Initially the club looked to purchase a number of second-hand lasers to help develop the fleet. They then approached their Regional Development Officer and were offered support for two coaches to run a weekends clinic as an introduction to Laser Sailing. The course was split into two groups, the first group of sailors who had little to no experience of centre-mained sailing (most club members had learnt in enterprises which are aft-main) and the second group, for those who could sail centre-mained but wanted to improve and learn how to sail a laser properly.
In addition to the two lead coaches employed, the club also had a number of keen instructors who wished to learn more about the Laser and how best to introduce sailors to the boat. The club hired 10 lasers from the nearby centre for the weekend and then advertised to all their members and past members who had left the club in the last two years. The weekend proved a success with over 20 sailors turning up for the weekends training, including a number of the enterprise sailors who have recently found it hard to find crews, and had dropped out of the race scene.
After this initial training weekend the laser race series was founded, which starts 2 minutes after the traditional enterprise race starts. To ensure the success of the programme, a Race Coach Level 2 has also been along to a number of the sessions to oversee the racing and offer any hints or tips on how the sailors can improve their Laser sailing, as well as helping the club instructors further their knowledge. The Club now has on average 10-12 Lasers racing regularly.
The club realised that by only catering for double handed racing they were losing possible members, but for very little outlay they now have more members and a competitive Laser fleet