A year of lockdowns hasn’t dented the enthusiasm of the committee members at Brixham Juniors Sailing Club (BJSC), who have used the time to secure the club’s future for the next five years and forge a partnership with Brixham Yacht Club too.
The club had two small compounds at Oxen Cove in Brixham where it kept its fleet of Picos and Wayfarers. It also had permission from SW Water to put the Wayfarers along a vehicle access area outside the pumping station at Oxen Cove without charge. Then in late autumn last year, Club Principal Neil Pearce was approached by Waterdance, a company that runs a lot of trawlers in Brixham. They wanted one of the club’s boat storage compounds because it gave them access to their new building.
Far from being bad news, this became a huge boost. Waterdance talked to the harbour authority and effectively moved BJSC’s compound a short distance and set it up with security fencing and a locked gate at no cost. Seeing an opportunity, Neil asked if the company might also offer some sponsorship: “They discussed my request with the bosses,” explains Neil, “and then they suggested that they pay all our rental fees for both the areas we rent from the harbour authority for five years as sponsorship! We’re a registered charity, so we get 50% discount, but it’s still £2k a year. The rental agreement is still in our name, but Waterdance is putting in £2k a year for the next five years! There were beaming smiles all over Zoom when I told the committee – the compound has been moved, the security fencing is in and the first sponsorship payment has been authorised, so we feel very lucky.”
Neil, who took over as Club Principal in late 2019, spent a lot of time during the year of Covid getting a good committee together and working with Director of Sailing Mark Smith at Brixham Yacht Club (BYC) to set up a collaboration. He said: “The clubs are two totally separate entities, as we’re a charity and BYC is not, but we used the time well, sat as a committee, managed to get a lot sorted during the downtime, including new training manuals, and we will be sharing Monday night racing.
"The older cadets will be racing with BYC sailors, we’ll be sharing safety boat cover, and volunteers from both clubs will be working together. Of course, we’ve not put it into practice yet because of the restrictions but we’re all ready to go at the end of April, and we’re very excited.”
Normally BJSC teaches about 40 children during the season, but Neil acknowledges that the sessions could be more popular this year given the circumstances around covid and staycations. The club is entirely run by volunteers, including nine dinghy instructors, operating in Brixham Harbour with a sailing area for training beyond the moorings. The fleet comprises six Wayfarers, eleven Picos and six Fevas plus three RIBs.
In a year that has dealt a lot of blows to sailing clubs, BJSC has weathered the storm well, obtaining funding, building bridges and making plans.
Left to right: Principal - Neil Pearce, Vice Principal - Ross Brown, Tom, Paula & Simon French (standing) Tilly & Jess (kneeling), Jade DI, Abbey DI & Josh Hill, Oliver Chaplin DI