New junior sailors at Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club have been inspired to try racing for the first time by the North East and Yorkshire Youth Traveller Series (NEYTS).
Fourteen junior sailors joined the County Durham club after completing RYA Stage 1 and 2 courses and with just a few weeks of experience on the water, were invited to try racing when the traveller series visited the club for one of its open meetings in July.
To make it as easy as possible for them to take part, the club organised a Rookie Regatta just for its Teesdale newbies, which used the same start line and course as the traveller series racing, with instructors on hand to provide support.
Deborah Waggett, of Teesdale SWC, said: “We were unable to run anything last year because of Covid but this year we’ve really gone out and pushed beginner sessions and have ended up with 14 new junior sailors.
“We encouraged them to do NEYTS and while some of our sailors were confident, some had only been sailing six weeks, so we offered them the chance to take part in our own club Rookie Regatta fleet alongside the event for just £5.
“They did the same start but we did different prizes and they had to be Teesdale club members and in their first one or two years of sailing. We ended up with 24 boats on the water, which is the biggest turn out the club has ever had for this event, including four Teesdale boats in the NEYTS regatta fleet, and nine in the rookie fleet.”
Activities were restricted in 2020 due to Covid-19 and low water levels but the club worked hard behind the scenes towards a successful return to the water in 2021, including a new low level boat park, wider slipway, the building of a kit shed, and a £6,000 grant for six new training boats to replace its ageing fleet of Optibats thanks to Teesdale Area Action Partnership (TAAP).
Teesdale SWC is an RYA OnBoard club and encouraging its junior sailors to take part in the NEYTS open meeting was an opportunity to involve not only them but also their parents with racing and club life.
Deborah, whose son Toby Waggett won the event, explains: “Before Toby joined the club we were a non-sailing family and as a new parent to the sport, I always felt the whole experience of getting into racing was a bit daunting, so the idea with the NEYTS event was to provide an introduction to both the children and their parents.
“We looked at all the different aspects of it, including how to enter, the bits of paper you need to be reading like the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions, and what happens on the water. It was a real confidence booster for everyone and I also did a rota for the rookie parents which allocated simple jobs like launching, trolleys and recovery, to ensure they were all involved during the day as well.
“It enabled the parents to get to know each other and make friends and they really enjoyed it. In fact a number of people asked if there was anything else they could do and afterwards, we had a chat with all of the parents about powerboat and sailing courses and a couple of them signed up for training.
“Over the years we’ve found that parents don’t mind bringing their children to sailing if they have something do to rather than just clock-watching, so having the youth traveller series was a brilliant opportunity for engaging not only our junior sailors but also their parents.”
Among those who took part in their first NEYTS event when the series visited Teesdale was Sophie McGill, aged 12, who was then inspired to travel to the one at South Shields SC as well. She said: “I like sailing because it’s a sport where size of the person doesn’t matter, you get to have fun on the water and I like the combination of tactics, technique and luck of the wind.”
Dad Jerry added: “Sophie has thoroughly enjoyed learning to sail this summer and the junior sailing programme was a fantastic way for her to start. The team at Teesdale sailing club have delivered an excellent set of courses with the instructors making every effort to develop each child to their full potential. In addition, all members and volunteers at Teesdale have been generous with their support and advice. As a parent it is amazing to see how Sophie has developed her sailing skills and overall confidence both on and off the water.”
Find out about Teesdale Sailing & Watersports Club here or visit the RYA OnBoard hub to discover the grassroots programme dedicated to introducing children and young people to sailing and windsurfing.
The next event in the North East & Yorkshire Youth Traveller Series will be 11 September 2021 at Filey SC. The series is supportive and inclusive for all young sailors from experienced racers to those venturing onto the race course or away from their home club for the first time. For details and entry visit www.yhysa.org.