“I’m willing to bet there’s no club as inclusive, as friendly and as mad as we are!” Whilst this may seem like a bold claim to make, a recent interview with the Secretary of the Sailing Club, Lottie Garton, confirmed that there are some exciting events on the horizon. Whilst competitive sailing is of course integral to the club, it is not all-important. In fact, reflection on several events in the Sailing calendar, including the Scottish University Sailing Association (SUSA) event, social sailing and the upcoming tour to Greece reinforces this point. From the outset, Lottie made it clear that the Sailing Club really is for everyone – whether you’re a seasoned sailor or it’s your first time out on the waters.
Whilst the club boasts a first Dinghy and Yacht team as well as a third team, there are plenty of opportunities for social sailors to get involved, both on the water and on a night out. Roughly 28 people account for the competitive teams. but there are also much needed reserves. As Lottie puts it: “ There’s no telling how many sailors are going to make it through a Friday night to a Saturday competition!”.
As for the club training sessions, the weather really has the final say.Lottie recalls several trips to Loch Ore – which is 45 minutes away – where the team arrived only to find that the water had frozen over or the wind conditions were not favourable. Despite the fact that people have arisen early on Saturday morning to make the trek,this has a knock-on effect on the teams preparation for the competitive season, whch runs roughly from the start of the year until the end of March. Nevertheless, the Club Dinghy Captain Ollie, tries his best to organise training at least once a week, but regrettably sometimes this can be difficult to realise.
In a recent trip to a SUSA event in Glasgow, twelves sailors from St Andrews travelled to Bardowie to participate in a competition hosted by Strathclyde University. Whilst the team was smaller than usual, with some members fulfilling spring break plans, it was still an enjoyable experience for those who attended. Seven Universities were present for the event, and as St Andrews is hosting the event next year, Lottie noted that it was a great opportunity to take on some tips as to how to run the event smoothly. The team improved on last year’s performance, although they narrowly missed out on a place in the final by one place in the league table. However, there is possibility for progress in the next year’s sailing events!
As Lottie states: “Overall, one of the things I would say about sailing is that it’s much more about the social side and the friends you make than about serious competition”. It would thus be a mistake to think that the club’s sole focus is on competition. When the race season is over, a different side of the sailing club emerges in the form of social sailing, where people of all abilities can come and make new friendships and try out the sport.
Social sailing commences on Sunday 10 April, and Lottie urges any budding sailors to sign up to the club’s mailing list for more details. Social sailing not only allows skilled individuals to take out the boats at their leisure, but it also pairs beginners with more experienced sailors, allowing them to learn the rules of the sport. On top of the social sailing, this year, the club is making its annual sailing trip, this time to Greece. 27 people will be navigating the blue waters of the Saronic Islands, from Saturday 28 May to 4 June.
Three yachts have been hired for the trip and Lottie notes there is a good mix of people attending, with beginners, experts and even the odd sun-worshipper. The club is hoping to build on the success of last year’s trip to sunny Turkey as the much anticipated conclusion of their 2015-16 season.
The Sailing Club is forging ahead, looking to expand membership and get more people involved with the sport they hold so dear. From competitions, to social sailing as well as their annual trip, the Sailing Club has had a great year and will be looking forward to having an even better time throughout the rest of this year.