Every year, the BYS Regional Junior Championships (RJCs) rely on enthusiastic volunteers to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and the young sailors get the very best out of the weekend.
This year, the South West Windsurfing RJC was held jointly with the South region and hosted by Bristol Corinthians Yacht Club (BCYC) at Axbridge Reservoir on 10/11 June. Amongst the volunteers was Johnny Allen, Training Principal at BCYC.
Johnny, who used to work as an IT consultant, and more recently as an artisanal glassblower, is now aged 60 and, as he puts it: “I’m funemployed, making myself available and helping out at the club. I’m a Dinghy Instructor, Windsurf Instructor and Powerboat Instructor and have RYA stamped through me!”
Having sailed for years at quite a high international level, Johnny has now moved more into the race officer side, especially at the club, so he was very happy to help with the RJC weekend: “I realised that the BCYC volunteers were perfectly capable of running the event themselves, but they needed confidence and in return, they taught me lots of things about the windsurfing world and the techniques of windsurf racing where things have moved on. My eyes were opened to RYA windsurfing, with everybody progressing as a group rather than individuals. In fact, competitors were discussing tactics together before the races. So I found it thoroughly enjoyable to spend time with the kids – there was lots of banter!
“I really liked the ‘get on with it’ attitude. ‘Perfect’ is the enemy when it comes to setting up races, and volunteering means we’re doing it for the enjoyment of other people – so it just has to be good enough, and fun, not perfect.”
Johnny enjoyed chatting with the other volunteers too, and he was particularly happy working with Duncan West (Regional Performance Manager) and the coaches, SW and National Class Coach Emma Labourne, South Lead Coach, Rachel Horton and Jenny Roberts, a member of the British Sailing Squad.: “It was very nice to get positive affirmation from an Olympic squad member that you’re getting it right. Doing it well and doing it right was very enjoyable.”
In fact, he could only come up with one downside to volunteering at the RJCs: “Getting up early!” he laughed. “With a 10am briefing and 10.30am start, I had to be at the club at 8am, which meant getting up at 6.30am. But when the sun’s out, you’ve gotta go sailing!”
Johnny has a few words of advice to anyone thinking of volunteering next year: “If there’s a challenge, it’s that there aren’t enough volunteers. Anyone wanting to volunteer shouldn’t be afraid of not knowing what to do! There are lots of jobs to do where you can look and learn and add value, and there’s always room for a spare pair of hands. You don’t have to be doing anything with huge responsibility. And if it’s good enough for the kids, what else are you going to do?”