Duncan Oakden from the club takes up the story:
In total we had 29 children learning to sail, supported by 10 of our assistant instructors (AI), who have all come up through the ranks of Bugs / Bug Week. With 39 children sailing at the club, this was the largest Bug Week fleet ever and was made up off Teras, Fevas, Fusions, Picos, and the Bahia.
The children were split into two different groups, Rebels and Piranhas. The Rebels were all either new to sailing or just getting used to sailing without an AI. The Piranhas were the more experienced children, who were taking the step up to sailing the club’s Fevas.
The Rebels were looked after by Duncan, who was brilliantly supported by the AIs. Niall looked after the Piranhas and delivered a lifetime of experience in three days. Sailing in 15 knots winds is becoming very familiar territory for the children. Wednesday’s conditions were fresh and sunny and the same for Thursday morning, with a sea state best described as sloppy chop. The wind picked up just to the wrong side of safe in the afternoon, so brought about an early finish to sailing.
The much loved Bug Week Dad’s Curry Night took place on the Thursday night, at the Marsala Lounge in East Preston. It was a new location for the event and to celebrate this change, mums were also invited for the first time.
The winds on Friday morning were going to be too strong to sail, so the start of the day was delayed to 11.30. After some theory in the boat park and moving the fleet down the beach the children came in for lunch, knowing that an extended afternoon session out on the water awaited them. In near perfect conditions the fleet launched and enjoyed an excellent afternoon of sailing as the sea breeze filled in and the sea state did not build.
Saturday sailing was going to be different to the first three days as we introduced the children to dinghy cruising. Lots of forward planning and preparation had gone into making this as safe and enjoyable as possible. Jonty had prepared 39 pack lunches, the five patrol boats had been briefed on what formation they should be in, out on the water. The children were briefed on how to plan and execute a cruise safely. At low tide, but in perfect conditions the Worthing Sailing Club – Bug Division Armada set sail in a westerly direction.
The armada visited the south cardinal buoy, where a dance off to "Baby Shark" was held. Then we carried on to Goring Gap, at this stage of the cruise another competition was held to see which boat could do the best Jack and Rose impression from the film Titanic. After sailing for an hour and a half the fleet came in and landed on the beach opposite the Blue Bird café, where the packed lunches and drinks were waiting. After a 15 minutes refuel, we were off again back towards the club. With both wind and tide in our favour and the Piranhas loving sailing boats with spinnakers, the trip back was much quicker, so we carried on towards the pier. After four hours of sailing the decision was to bring the cruise to an end and head to shore. This decision was met with a lot of complaints from the children who just wanted to carry on sailing, what a brilliant response. But we had to land to get ready for the Bug Week party, which was themed “Under the Sea”.
During the week, the children too young to take part in Bugs had spent their time making lots of amazing decorations and transforming the club house to a fantasy underwater paradise; we have never seen the club house look so magical. Everyone turned up in fancy dress, you could see sharks, jelly fish, lobsters and one or two mermaids in attendance. One of the parents made some amazing Persian food for the “bring a dish” buffet, and between us all, there was a very long table full of food. The party was a great way to bring the training part of Bug Week to an end.
Sunday was all about integrating Bugs and Sunday racing together, and allowing the children to put all their knowledge gained over the last four days into practice at a club Sunday racing event. In the morning the club's sailing secretary, Jerry Robinson, who had helped throughout the week, took the children through the flags that might be used at racing. The whole process of racing on Sunday, e.g. signing on, the race briefing, the role of the race officer etc. was explained. The children then prepared their boats, signed on and went for their lunch before the rest of the club turned up.
The first race of the day was a monohull trophy race and Bugs had entered 22 boats into the race, alongside a few of the normal club’s monohull racers. Combined with 20 cats on the water, the race area was filled with boats. It must have looked a fantastic site from the beach. Not to be outdone the club was also buzzing, with both balconies full of people enjoying a drink and some food, Jonty’s £5 bug week special was going down a storm.
The best part of Bug Week was seeing 22 boats full of bug children all going over the start line of the race at the same time. It was an amazing sight to see. The racing was close and intense, the up-wind mark possibly might have been a bit too close, a decision not lost on the race box team when the boats were finishing. You could have easily been mistaken in thinking Chris Halfknight had given up being race officer and was instead now enjoying himself being a bingo caller. The numbers were coming out thick and fast, after three laps the monohulls were still very tightly packed together.
All of the bug boats then stayed out and took part in the summer series 8 race before heading to shore after completing five days of epic sailing at Worthing. The feedback from parents has been amazing with lots of their children now hooked on sailing and wanting to come out on a Sunday and race. Surely the best legacy we can all hope for, from Bugs and Bug Week.
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