An £8,500 windsurfing investment at Burton Sailing Club is helping the sport make a comeback at Foremark Reservoir thanks to the support of BT Sport Relief Challenge: Hell on High Seas skipper and double Olympic silver medalist sailor, Ian Walker.
Burton SC have launched a windsurfing 'taster' programme for 2016 to introduce the sport to a new local audience, as well as encouraging existing windsurfers to sail at Foremark, after landing a £7,500 grant award from the John Merricks Sailing Trust.
The JMST, of which Ian is a Trustee, was set up to help young sailors and youth sailing organisations achieve their goals in memory of sailor John Merricks, who won Olympic silver with Ian in 1996 before he tragically died in a car accident a year later.
Ian, the first British skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15 and who is leading the Sport Relief celebrity sailing challenge around the UK between Monday 7 to Friday 11 March, has fond personal memories of sailing at Foremark Reservoir having competed in his first junior championship event in a Mirror dinghy at Burton.
Now he is backing the club's bid to encourage anyone, aged eight and upwards, who has fancied trying windsurfing to give the sport a go and make the most of the new JMST-funded kit and Foremark's unique South Derbyshire setting for windsurfing.
Ian said: "In 2007 the Nottinghamshire Sailboarding Club was wound up and offered its remaining funds to the JMST to be used for awards for windsurfing in the East Midlands area. We were delighted to offer an award to Burton SC windsurfing equipment, as the club has proven itself as a dynamic and successful organisation."
With the JMST grant Burton has added six new windsurf boards, nine rigs - to suit different sizes and abilities - and a shoreside simulator. The JMST grant is backed by around £1,000 of club funding and volunteer time for building racks and storage. The club's windsurfing taster days start in April and will run throughout the summer.
Burton boasts a great location for windsurfing, being on top of a hill, with about 100 acres to sail on, lots of clean wind and plenty of landing and launching sites.
As a recognised RYA Training Centre, Burton has committed to expand on its existing sail training provision to provide a range of RYA windsurfing courses, develop a Windsurfing Youth Academy and become a Team15 club, as part of the RYA's grassroots youth windsurfing development programme, in 2016.
Ian added: "We wish Burton SC every success with the Windsurfing Youth Academy and look forward to seeing more and more young people enjoying the sport of windsurfing and progressing to competition level with their sailing."
Founded in 1902, Burton is one of Britain's oldest sailing clubs. This latest project is part of a £200,000 investment in sailing at the club over the past four years, as Burton strives to make the sport increasingly accessible to all in the local community.
Keith Pallett, Burton SC Training Principal, said: "This new kit has helped us kick on with putting a programme of have-a-go sessions and instructors in place to really make Foremark a local windsurfing destination. We are very grateful to the JMST.
"Burton has traditionally been a racing club, but we are seeing more and more families, schools and community groups getting involved now, which is our focus. The introduction of this windsurfing programme, plus further keelboat and disabled sailing activities, are really making sailing a sport for all at Burton."
Burton SC is hosting a FREE try sailing Open Day as part of the national RYA Push The Boat Out have-a-go-at-sailing festival on Saturday 14 May. Discover how you get involved at Burton SC, including trying windsurfing, at www.burtonsailingclub.co.uk