Teesdale Sailing Club's change of tack results in launch of successful summer school
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
A SUMMER school to introduce children to the joys of sailing proved so successful it is to be repeated again this year.
All 22 places on the first F3 (fast, fun and free) course run by Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club, on Grassholme reservoir, were snapped up last summer, much to the delight of officials.
Imogen Clay, the club’s youth development officer, explained: “We have had children interested in learning to sail through things we do with the Scouts and Utass, but we thought it may be better to do it in a more structured way.
“It is nice when you are learning as a child if there are other children to learn with you, so we thought let’s make it a summer club, which we dovetailed with the school summer holidays.”
She added: “It was really successful and as a result, we have become an On Board club, which brings it under the umbrella of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).”
The F3 summer school is run by the club’s volunteer instructors and as part of its operation each child must be accompanied by a parent.
The course is open to children aged between seven and 14. No previous sailing experience is required and Ms Clay reckons youngsters will be on the water “within ten minutes”.
And to cater for those who completed last year’s summer school, the sailing club has devised an F3-plus course to take those returning to the next level. The summer schools will begin in July and run for eight weeks, with the F3 course on a Saturday morning and F3-plus on a Saturday afternoon.
All boats and equipment – such as wetsuits and buoyancy aids – are provided.
Ms Clay added: “We are quite aware that sailing can have an elitist reputation and can be quite expensive, but we are trying to make it as accessible as possible.”
F3 members will start out on small Optimist sailing dinghies – which Ms Clay describes as “glorified bath tubs”.
She added: “They are brilliant for children and (Olympic gold medallist) Ben Ainsley started in an Optimist.”
The club has received support from Teesdale Action Partnership, which has provided £6,000 to pay for two RS Feva boats – two person sailing dinghies – plus children’s wetsuits and other gear.
Commodore Paul Davison said the introduction of the F3 summer school had reinvigorated the club, attracting new people to the sport.
“Up until last year, we had been running sail experience days and a couple of RYA weekend courses for adults and there was not a lot of take-up after them.
“We have changed course, doing less of the structured adult training and more for the children.”
There are only a few places left on this summer's F3 introduction of sailing summer school.
For more details, contact the club via its website at www.tdswc.org.uk