Building a yachting community in the landlocked Midlands

18 Jun 20

If your passion is yachting but you live in the landlocked Midlands, you could be forgiven for thinking to indulge your passion all-year round might be a challenge.

Thanks to seven cruising clubs and a number of shore-based RYA Training Centres dotted around the Midlands, many of the region’s big boat sailors do meet regularly, learn new skills and enjoy annual cruises, rallies and races at home and abroad.

But if you’re one of the estimated 5,000+ yachting enthusiasts who live in the counties farthest from the coast, you can now be part of a year-round community of likeminded Midlanders, thanks to an exclusive Facebook Group created just for you. Midlands Yacht Cruisers and Racers – or MYCAR for short – is about bringing the region’s scattered yacht sailors together virtually in one place.

MYCAR gives sailors access to training, cruising and racing opportunities, the chance to ‘meet’ and network with others who also can’t wait for their next adventure on the waves, a way to stay up-to-date on relevant current affairs and sailing news and a platform to proactively share advice, information and experiences.

To be part of the MYCAR community, you don’t have to own a boat, just have a passion for them. From people who have enjoyed flotilla holidays but never had the chance to follow it up or dinghy sailors keen to expand their boating horizons, to experienced skippers, instructors and boat owners, anyone who loves yachting can join. The only ‘rule’ is the Midlands must be your home.

One of the first to join the MYCAR community was 20-year-old Ethan Harries, who lives in Bedworth, North Warwickshire, situated some two-and-a-half hours from the nearest bit of sea. Ethan’s yachting backstory is an interesting one. On an RYA Start Sailing dinghy course at Draycote Water, the then 14-year-old met two people who were shortly going off to do their RYA Competent Crew qualification.

The teenager had never given yachts a second thought before, believing it to be something way beyond his reach and means. But that conversation opened his eyes to the possibility there might be a pathway to big boats for him too.

When Ethan discovered Shustoke SC, just 11 miles from his home, had a cruising section he couldn’t believe his luck. That was five years ago and he’s since taken part in cruises and deliveries around the UK and Channel Islands and competed in the Round The Island Race. He achieved his Day Skipper theory last year and is now waiting for COVID-19 to pass before he undertakes the practical part of his training.

That’s one reason MYCAR has been the perfect outlet for Ethan.

He said: “If my experience with Shustoke is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to joining and networking with more likeminded people and discovering what opportunities might arise and experience I can learn from.

“Being able to do that online is also particularly important at the moment and it provides a way for people to check in more regularly than meeting up in person.

“Yachting for me is about the potential to explore. I still sail dinghies, but I can get bored sailing round the same lake for 20 minutes. In the past two years I’ve sailed in the West Country, the Solent, and the Channel Islands and it’s whetted my appetite to do more and go further afield further down the line.”

“It’s been lovely to discover this group of people with so much experience and knowledge right on my doorstep at Shustoke. Now I’m looking forward to extending this through the wider Midlands yachting community.”

MYCAR is also an RYA Affiliated Club, that’s free to join. The group doesn’t organise activities; its sole purpose is to complement and expand on the work the Midlands cruising clubs, training centres and RYA do to promote and celebrate yacht sailing with those who live in the region.

If you want to expand your yachting horizons while sat at home, search ‘Midland Yacht Cruisers and Racers’ on Facebook and request to join. You will be asked a couple of simple questions about your connection with the Midlands and why you want to join MYCAR. The virtual door will then open to a world of new opportunities.