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About Me
I started sailing dinghies in Northern Ireland when I was a teenager and soon developed a keen interest in racing. I also crewed and raced in a keelboat for a number of years. After moving to England in 1970 I took up dinghy sailing again on inland water and sailed a single handed boat called a Solo. In addition to racing I obtained dinghy sailing instructor and club racing coach RYA qualifications, which I used to coach at my club. On retirement I worked part time at a local leisure facility instructing RYA courses.

In addition to dinghy racing I have also cruised to the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly and along the south coast of England on 6-10 berth cruising yachts.

I joined the Hertford and District U3A sailing group 5 years ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the friendship and sailing with them. I unfortunately suffered a stroke in January 2016 but with the help of the U3A members I started sailing again and now sail with them on less windy days and on their annual week on the Norfolk Broads. I have also rediscovered very active sailing and racing through the RYA Sailability scheme where I sail a trimaran called a Challenger.

Sailing Options and How to Start
Sailing can be as simple as pottering around in a small dinghy or cruising on an ocean yacht but it does not have to be expensive as second hand boats are available and you can also start as a crew in someone’s boat. Most people start by visiting a municipal sailing centre or a local sailing club. They have Open Days when they invite prospective members to visit and try sailing. Every May the RYA also organises a nationwide event called ‘Push the Boat Out’, when the public are invited to around 400 clubs/centres to try sailing.

There are however safety issues so advice from sailing clubs and RYA should be followed.

U3A Sailing Group
If a number are interested in sailing as a U3A group they should approach a local sailing club with the proposal to form a group within the club. The group I belong to sails on Tuesday which means the club and galley are very busy on an additional day to the usual weekend so the U3A presence benefits both parties. Our group also participates in social events at the club so other clubs could increase their usage by fostering a U3A group.

We normally have a series of short races in the morning and afternoon, and in addition new sailors can receive instruction in a larger Wayfarer dinghy.

The group also arranges a number of ‘holidays’ which are very popular and over subscribed:- a week on the Norfolk Broads on traditional boats, a week dinghy sailing in the Mediterranean, and a few days sailing off Brightlingsea.

To operate safely we have to ensure that we are trained to use the powerboat and have regular first aid updates. It is also advisable to have some RYA instructors as members to ensure we are following best practice.

Existing Groups
I would like to hear from other sailing groups as we can learn from each other.

New Groups
Please contact me if you are considering setting up a sailing group. Unfortunately I am informed that U3A insurance will only cover groups sailing on inland water.

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