Reuben Allen (12) from Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, has just completed his RYA Stage 1 & 2 sailing course at Carrickfergus Sailing Club.

His dad, a firefighter stationed in Carrickfergus, had heard of the course in work and had gone onto the sailing club’s website to check it out.

He had done a little sailing himself and knew that Reuben would love it. He and his wife had ensured that all their children could swim from an early age, he also knew that Reuben would be very comfortable on the water.

Commenting on his experience at the Club, Reuben says: “The Sailing Club is very modern and well equipped. All the instructors were great, there was a little classroom work learning some basics but most of the time was spent out on the water actually sailing.

“At the beginning there were two of us in the boat, one steering and the other looking after the sails, then we learnt to do both ourselves and eventually I progressed to having a boat to myself. We were sailing Toppers mostly but there were also a couple of Picos and I was in those as well.

“There were lots of instructors out on the water with us. They always stayed nearby in two very fast safety boats but we were all wearing wetsuits and buoyancy aids anyway.”

The course starts about 9.30am with a midday break for a packed lunch, before going out on the water again until about 4.00pm.

By that stage the children are usually wet, having been practicing capsize drills where they learn how to right the boat again, and hungry. After they put the boats away they have a hot shower before being picked up by their parents.

Reuben comments: “I would love to do more sailing. I hope to do the next level next year and my kid brother wants to do the course I did! It’s a really great week, learning how to rig and sail a boat and I’m going back to school in September having learnt new skills.

“The sailing club also has Bright Night Sailing events on Friday nights until the end of August and I want to get to as many of those as I can. My brother can come along to those too.”