The Club was founded in 1948, to promote the association of RAE and attached personnel, having a common interest in sailing and seamanship. It continues to operate in a similar role today offering many of the same benefits to its members.
Amongst our members, currently numbering over 50, there are the usual widely divergent interests, from the really keen racing helms, through to the non-boat owner, who nevertheless likes to come and talk boats and sailing at our winter meetings. We try to offer something for everyone with the following Activities:
The members of the Dinghy Section sail the Club boats at Frensham Pond SC in both the informal Wednesday evening race training sessions and in weekend races. We also hold our own series of match racing at Frensham Pond SC which is an excellent opportunity for Club members to get more experience of racing. In addition, we enter teams in the other competitions.
One of the most popular features of the Club’s activities is the programme of dinghy cruises and beach days which take place in the Solent and surrounding waters. The dinghy cruising programme usually includes camping weekends (e.g. at Poole Harbour, Chichester Harbour and Rutland Water) and an extended camping and sailing holiday somewhat further afield, such as the West Country, Wales or Scotland. These events are always extremely popular with members and offer a pleasant mix of sailing and social activities.
Nearly all the weekend cruises are on the Solent where the wind is less fluky than at Frensham Pond and waves and tides add an extra dimension.
The number of boats being taken is sometimes limited by the number of towbars, so if you have one on your car, you will be in demand. People that aren’t towing boats usually pile into the towing cars to share the cost of petrol and make the event more sociable. Really keen sailors spend the whole journey listening for weather forecasts and trying to tune into Radio Solent for the local outlook, while the rest of us just prepare for the coming day of events! As long as the wind is not too strong, the cruise generally goes ahead as planned, but if the forecast is bad the previous evening or the forecast changes overnight then all participants are informed that the sail is off.
A set of waterproofs is required by everyone. Wetsuits, drysuits and special boots etc are worn by some, but they are not essential. The essentials are: packed lunch including plenty of water/squash/hot drink, soft-soled shoes (e.g. deck strollers, trainers etc), a set of spare clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, sun-cream, and a small amount of money for petrol sharing and drinks at the pub/ice creams on the beach.
Once down at the coast, everybody wakes up again and the boats are rigged; this is a good exercise for learning the ropes as the boats are completely dismantled for the journey and the skippers invariably refer to every bit of string by its proper name. There are usually four or more boats and enough sailors to warrant three to a boat on most occasions; this leads to a more sociable sail, especially if you change boats for the return trip. There are a variety of dinghies owned by Club members providing opportunity to sail GP14s, the Club Comet Trios (an exciting sail with an asymmetric spinnaker) and possibly some others too. Once the crews are organised so everyone is happy, the Officer of the Day gets the charts and tidal atlas out to explain to everyone exactly where we are planning to cruise to. At this stage of the proceedings the mood and capability of all the participants, the latest weather forecast, and the prevailing weather conditions help to tailor the goals of the day.
We will facilitate the daysail, in that we will organise a group of people together who may make the independent choice to sail from the same location at roughly the same time to the same destination, and then return together. At all times the skipper of the vessel is responsible for the vessel itself and has a duty of care to their crew. They take the decision to sail for themselves.
We will look out for each other, and if someone gets in difficulty we will all stop, gather together, and render assistance as proportionate to the situation. We may provide direct assistance to others, and help to ensure that the right decisions are taken to maximise safety.
The trip over to the Isle of Wight takes between 40 minutes (on a force 4 beam reach from Wooton Creek to Stokes Bay) to typically 2-3 hours, maybe less in a good wind or much longer in a poor one, and there is usually a pub with easy access by boat. We all bask in the sun for an hour, eat and drink (not too much), and laugh with anyone who capsized. Depending on the timing of lunch and factors previously outlined, the dinghies then head straight home or on an indirect cruise via some other point of interest (getting an ice cream from Ryde has been attempted and failed due to localised Doldrums). Once back on land the boats are packed up ready for the return journey, and everybody gets changed into clean dry clothes. On the return journey, a stop at a Public House is mostly essential, especially in nice weather, and a pint of beer will be all it takes to knock you out at the end of the day. By 10pm everybody is home, in the bath (but not necessarily all together!).
There are a number of cruiser owners in the Club and we currently run 2 or 3 cruising events per year, ranging from a one day social occasion to a weekend cross-channel cruise. For non-cruiser owners, there are many opportunities for crewing during the course of a season.
A number of members own windsurfers, canoes, ribs, catamarans etc. These tend to sailed mainly on the camps and join the dinghies on beach days rather than organising their own events (although you are welcome to if you are interested!)
During the winter season, the Club holds indoor meetings, usually on the last Thursday of the month. Some really first class visiting speakers attend these meetings, to share with us their experience and adventures. Otherwise the evening is a social event such as a curry evening or a game of pub skittles.
This is a special section of the Club for which members pay a supplement to the annual subscription. Members of the Dinghy Section are entitled to use the Club’s sailing dinghies (Comet Trios). All the boats are normally kept at Frensham Pond SC and Southampton SC, where members may use them freely. The Club has group membership of both Frensham Pond SC and Southampton SC, for the benefit of the dinghy section; the boats can be used elsewhere by special arrangement.
To make this clear, if you have a seaworthy dinghy of your own, you do not need to subscribe to the Dinghy Section Membership – if you use your own boat, and it is seaworthy then you are set. Only if you don’t have a dinghy of your own, or your dinghy is not strong, equipped well enough or not suitable for adventurous sea cruising (or you just fancy using the Club Boats) do you need to subscribe to this.
The dinghies are used for training but during the week other activities are organised for Dinghy section members in order they can hone their skills. A recent addition to the sailing programme is a match racing series; two such series are organised for the coming season.
In order to helm one of the Club dinghies on non-tidal waters, a member must be approved and is required to have obtained at least an RYA Level 2 Dinghy Sailing Certificate.
In order to helm one of the Club dinghies on tidal waters, a member must be approved and is required to have obtained at least an RYA Seamanship Sailing Certificate.
In order to keep costs down, all dinghy section members assist in the maintenance of the dinghies – this usually takes place during the winter months, is sociable and seldom arduous. NB: membership of the Dinghy Section does not give any entitlement to sail a member’s boat on Frensham Pond or from Southampton SC.
Each year there are three trophies that can be awarded to Club members during the AGM
- The Peter Martin Memorial Trophy is awarded to a member for outstanding sailing achievement during the year.
- The Commodores Cup is awarded for achievement in training.
- The last and most recent trophy is the Alan Jones Trophy which is awarded in recognition for services to the Club.
Other cups include the Asymmetric Cup, the Mirror Cup (for the winner of the small boat race), the GP14 Cup, the Ladies Helm and the Overall Winner (which is an overall, and not a cup).