Derwent Reservoir SC is Club of the Year finalist

Members celebrate recognition in Active club category
06 Feb 24

Lots of people having fun in the sun on shore in front of the clubhosue at Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club open day.

Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club is celebrating after being shortlisted for a national award by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

The family-friendly club near Consett has landed a place in the spotlight as a finalist in the 2024 RYA Club of the Year Awards supported by Gallagher.

Run by volunteers, it is among 14 finalists nationwide and one of four recognised in the Active clubs category for promoting and encouraging participation.

Ann Penny, Training Principal and a former Commodore, said: “We try to make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy the water. Over the years we’ve always been a busy sailing club but in recent times we’ve adapted and embraced new water users, including paddleboarders, kayakers and open water swimmers.

On the doorstep

“We’re finding that people want to do things locally and together and have been exploring what’s on their doorstep. It’s fantastic to see people enjoying not only the watersports but also the social aspect of what we provide at the club.

“As a members’ club we’ve been trying to react to what people want and being shortlisted for the Club of the Year awards is absolutely wonderful. We have a great team who’ve really worked to engage existing and new members, with lots of people who give their time and volunteer, so it’s rewarding to know that people appreciate the club and what we do.”

The overall winners for each award category and the Club of the Year title will be announced in a ceremony at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, Farnborough International, on Saturday 24 February 2024.

Group of paddleboarders enjoying the water and sunshine at Derwent Reservoir SC.

Watersports pathway

The club has around 700 members and as an RYA Recognised Training Centre, offers courses for all ages. Day tickets also encourage people to try the club, many of whom go on to become members, while informal improver, women’s and learn-to-race sessions empower novices and families to develop their confidence and skills.

The club has RYA OnBoard and British Youth Sailing accreditation for its quality provision and coaching for children and young people aged 8-18.

Among its members is international ParaSailing competitor Adam Billany and the club is an RYA Sailability centre, with accessible dinghies to make the sport available to all, including people with physical disabilities.

Alongside the dedicated volunteers who run the DRSC’s regular activities, the club has moved towards professionalising its offer, including paid safety cover and instructors, a franchise for the catering and the introduction of a Development Officer. As Ann sums up: “We’ve adapted to what’s happening in the world.”

Derwent Reservoir, Consett, Co. Durham, ENGLAND - 20th May 2023: Consett in Focus (CiF) project - Consett@Play, Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club, Sailing instruction - L1 and L2 courses at Derwent Reservoir, Consett,  Co. Durham, ENGLAND.(Photo by George Ledger Photography)...

Community spirit

Kirsty Jane Brown, who nominated the club for the award, became a club member in early 2021 following the challenges of the pandemic and said: “We joined as a family of four hoping to learn something new together and independently.”

Describing how they arrived as beginners and progressed through RYA courses, improver and race training sessions, Kirsty said both her teenage children had been inspired by the sport. Her daughter has qualified as an RYA Dinghy Instructor and her son hopes to teach windsurfing.

She added: “Our club has a huge sense of community. The social team is constantly developing events, helping people to connect. We regularly volunteer time both on and off the water, and this has been a great lesson and experience for our two teenagers.

“The club offers something for everyone: training, racing, windsurfing, SUPs, kayaking, open water swimming and social events. We have seen positive development within our club and are sure it will continue to grow and evolve for future generations. It is like a big family. The members are encouraging, nurturing and supportive, and we have made some really good friends.”

Open day

The club is hosting an RYA Regional Training Day on 13 April for volunteers and instructors from clubs and centres across the North East. It is also a venue for the British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships, 22-23 June 2024.

RYA Level 1 & 2 beginners’ courses begin again in April and the club has an open day on Saturday 1st June 2024, when visitors will be able to get on the water to give sailing and windsurfing a go. The club offers a warm welcome for anyone who would like to find out more about its activities, visit: Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club.

Group of windsurfers on shore with sails on the ground at Derwent Reservoir SC with a couple of sailing dinghies on the water in the background.