The Ladies that Launch (LTL) group at Salcombe YachtClub (SYC) has just celebrated its tenth anniversary – not quite in the way originallyintended, but simply by getting back on the water successfully after the springlockdown.
Jayne Morris, who works as Sailing Co-ordinator at SYC, hasvolunteered with LTL since the beginning. As soon as she had been unfurloughedand started getting boats back on the water for the cadets, she attended one ofthe RYA #returntoboating webinars to help with the club planning. “It was veryhelpful,” she explains. “It gave us confidence that we could make a plan thatwas possible and safe. I worked with the Sailing Committee and one of our cadetvolunteers to make it happen.”
Helped by Sailing Development Officer Stuart Jones, Jayne rana trial session with the LTL in order to produce operating procedures for smallgroup sailing and conduct a new risk assessment, which was further trialled andamended over the next few weeks. “The first ladies’ sessions helped us tounderstand how to make other sessions safe,” she says. “Everything takes moretime, but slow is smooth, and smooth is fast!”
Whilst six members of the original LTL group remain,each year there’s a different core of ladies who benefit from the boost inconfidence that makes them feel comfortable in the club and in racing. “It servesas a lovely introduction to the club,” says Jayne. “I’m really grateful toUrsula who runs the WhatsApp group, boosting excitement every week abouteveryone getting together to sail in safety and freedom.
“One of our ladies, who has been coming for the last tenyears, had a complete knee replacement last year and thought she’d never dinghysail again. But being able to do a short 20-minute session to start, she couldbuild up her confidence and flexibility.”
Other women have benefited from this close-knit group whendealing with rehabilitation or bereavement. And ironically enough, while LTL has a very specific energy about it,there isn’t anything similar for men who are just returning to the sport: “Acouple of our ladies asked if their husbands could come to sail and help in thesafety boat. They were nervous about returning to boating, so it became a bitof a joke to give the men ladies’ names, so they could come along too! Now they’vegained confidence in a quieter estuary, and though we’ll continue Ladiesthat Launch midweek sessions, next year, covid allowing, we’ll add a Fridaysocial sailing session to have everyone together (hopefully with socialdistancing up on the terrace for a drink afterwards).”
SYC itself was due to celebrate its 125thanniversary this year – something it’s planning to do next year instead. In themeantime, however, it has a very spacious clubhouse, which has helpedenormously with the implementation of safety measures and the resulting abilityto keep activity going well into October. Jayne says: “I’m grateful for thecontinued RYA updates which help the club work within the most recentgovernment guidelines. All safety measures are in place and everyone has been followingthe rules very carefully.”
As the sailing winds down for the winter, the club isorganising rambles with soup back at the clubhouse afterwards. These arepopular especially with retired members for whom the friendship is a crucialpart of their participation, and will, with luck, get everyone through to amuch better boating season next year.
It may have been a low-key celebration, limited season, and avery cautious return to boating for the Ladies that Launch, but Jayne reportsthat it’s been a very visible success: “It has been a great spectacle foreveryone onshore to have the boats back on the water – it’s uplifting foreveryone, including the non-sailors, and you see people pause on the shore tolook. We had planned to have a Ladies Day, all wearing hats, to celebrate our tenthanniversary, but actually the fact that we’re still going through all this isenough for us.”