My friends and I – from a Facebook derived walking group known as” #classof2016walk1000miles” – recently enjoyed a brilliant weekend incorporating a Taster Sail at Rutland Water Sailing Club. We all hoped to get some walking in too, but the chance to have a taste of sailing – organised by our “walkmate” the generous Dave Grundy from the RCSSC was the main motivation for lots of us to travel from far afield and all points of the compass. We had been almost drooling with anticipation of this day since it was arranged in October 2018! Our Taster Day was set to be on the Friday 19th July, when the final schedule was for each person who wanted, to enjoy 2 hours experiencing the joy of sailing in club boats manned with volunteer crew. It sounded fantastic!
For a few days beforehand, the weather had been dry and balmy, but the weather gods had decided Friday was going to be different and sent strong winds and downpours to foil any thought of taking novices out to handle boats. Great disappointment was felt – especially by one person who could only come for one day, but Dave G. said he felt sure his fellow volunteers would rise to the occasion and return on Sunday when the forecast looked promising. I know he struggled all weekend to rearrange boats and crew, but a couple of us who were staying longer in the area agreed to postpone our session until Monday when, worryingly, the winds unfortunately looked less ideal again.
Sunday morning happily brought perfect weather and a lucky few went out for 2 hours on the water split up between the two Squibs – “Satyr” and “Lift Off” – and the Soling “Time Flies”, crewed variously by volunteers: John Cranwell Ward, Mike Simmons, Mike Threadgill, Marc Tebbutt and not least Dave Grundy himself. Experiences were a bit varied (one boat had to be “rescued” with a broken forestay shackle) but all “tastees” came back with broad smiles on their faces and tall tales to tell. The next batch went out after lunch and while most were thrilled with their experience, one of the group who had been nervous from the beginning, decided she really didn’t like the sensation of the boat “tipping” and had to cut short her session. This – although sad for her – gave my husband and myself the unexpected chance to experience a sail in the historic Soling for an hour. My previous experience sailing had been crewing a Mirror Dinghy, 35 years ago – so it was quite a leap for me to be holding a jib sheet in an Olympic class boat! I really enjoyed the speed, the spray and the sensation of managing the wind to move a boat like this along.
On Monday there was the chance for my husband and myself to get a final hour’s sail with an opportunity to helm a Squib. This was only to take place if the gusty wind had moderated sufficiently. We tried to occupy ourselves as patiently as we could all morning, waiting for the decision to be made. Much to my joy the wind did calm a little and we were finally allowed to go out, each in turn. Mark Gadd and Marc Tebbut were our lovely volunteer crew and they enabled both of us to have a go at helming in “Satyr” We were both thoroughly exhilarated by the time we returned to dry land!
We can’t thank Dave G. and all the volunteer crew who provided this wonderful experience enough. All of us really appreciated the dedicated organisation, the time each volunteer gave us, the distances they must have travelled to do it and their kind and friendly manner. As a result, despite the uncooperative weather at the start, we all enjoyed an utterly memorable weekend and all of us (even the nervous one) were inspired to want to do it all over again!
This article was written by Taster Guest Frances Ipson