Hansa Blue Fleet Training continues introducing club sailors to racing, giving them the skills and understanding of the rules needed to race at their own club and Hansa TT Traveller events.

On 15 September, Sailability @ Whitefriars, became the latest site to take advantage of this new approach to helping sailors take their first competitive steps.

This year, RYA Sailability and Hansa Class UK wants to encourage more clubs to offer Blue Fleet Training, to create a pathway for sailors to get into racing and to become more integrated into the main club activities. If you are interested in running Blue Fleet Training this year, contact Brett Cokayne, RYA Disability Development Officer, at ddo.midlands@rya.org.uk

In the meantime, Whitefriars' David Durston explains what happened on their training day...

Sailability @ Whitefriars' 'Introduction to Racing' 

"This was for our sailors who could either sail independently, or with a buddy. For some this was only their fourth or fifth time out on the water. The training was run by Leon Ward, the South region's RYA Disability Development Officer, ably assisted by an enthusiastic, large team of Whitefriars volunteers.

"Several of the volunteers were from the main club, not Sailability, and hadn't previously been involved in sailing for people with disabilities. This included two fiercely competitive juniors, who buddied with two very keen young novice sailors. An added edge was that their fathers were buddying sailors in other boats!

"With Steve Sawford, from Sailing for All, also bringing some boats it was possible to get eight boats on the water, making the training more interesting. All the boats were either Hansa 303s, 2.3s, or a Liberty, which I sailed and in my capacity as a qualified Race Coach was also on hand for advice.

"Leon started with a briefing to gain an idea of the experience level in the group and to assign boats. He then went into the basic principles of racing and outlined a few of the main rules to hopefully (!) avoid collisions.

"The group started by doing a short windward-leeward course with three-minute starts. At the beginning, not many boats were anywhere near the line, even those with experienced sailors on board. By the end, most were at least in the vicinity for the toot.

"One of the learning points was how to control boat speed upwind and a bit of course management. The session developed into a square course before lunch and a debrief.

"After lunch Leon went for an ambitious exercise for such novice sailors - follow-my-leader. From the safety boat, Leon led the group at varying speeds through various points of sail. Once he had had a chance to watch each sailor and suggest changes, they dropped to the back of the line.

"This taught great boat control and understanding in a very short period of time, to sailors who mostly had only a very basic understanding of wind direction and sail set. Armed with their new skills, the day ended with a slightly longer race, made even longer by wind death just after the start!

"What a success, all the new sailors raved about the experience and can't wait for next season. Several suggested they want to buy their own boats, join the main club and take part in club racing.

"Sailability @ Whitefriars are planning to run race practice sessions at the end of all their Wednesday sessions. They will also invite WSC club members who may want to develop their skills; members can then stay and take part in Wednesday evening racing."

Hansa charitable project to provide sailing boats for disabled racing

Hansa is running a project to make six Hansa 303s, including road trailer and towing vehicle, available for loan to Hansa Class Association members at racing and training events. The project's aim is to make it easier for competitors to travel to and enter away events greatly increasing participation in disabled racing.

Hansa continues working to secure funding partners for the project. If you are interested in finding more about the project, including how you might be able to support, either in terms of direct funding or in-kind, contact Bob Scull at dartsail@btinternet.com