Hayling aim to provide racing opportunity

Melvyn Cooper's Get Racing Club has helped many sailors get involved in competitive action
Melvyn Cooper's Get Racing Club has helped many sailors get involved in competitive action
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Tomorrow sees the return of Hayling Island Sailing Club’s (HISC) hugely-successful Get Racing Club.

The on-water race events, which attract around 20 sailors each week, are set to start again.

Launched in 2014 by RYA sailing coach Melvyn Cooper, the scheme has so far enabled more than 200 members from HISC to take to the water and participate in the club’s popular racing series.

The Get Racing Club aims to give casual sailors of all ages the confidence, skills and equipment needed to start racing at club level.

HISC also provide, for free, one of its fleet of RS Ventures for those without a boat.

Such has been the universal popularity of these sessions that clubs across the country are beginning to follow Hayling’s lead and offer more activities for novices and casual sailors.

And club commodore, Greg Lamb, is convinced that, while HISC has a reputation for developing world-class sailors, it is important there are opportunities for people of all abilities to take to the water.

The scheme allows them to get some racing experience, without the pressure of training to become a future world champion.

Lamb said: ‘We don’t just want the really good guys, we’re aiming to include the whole spectrum.

‘The Get Racing Club is supportive, it’s encouraging and it takes all the pressure off first-timers.

‘This scheme is not about to make them world champions.

‘It’s aiming to make racing fun and to introduce them to what can be quite a daunting and intense thing to do.

‘We know at least two other clubs around the country have already taken the concept and even borrowed the name, so it’s great that’s caught on.’

Each Get Racing Club event in 2015 will be run by a different HISC class racing team.

That means they can explain what their class is all about.

They can also arrange test sails and crewing opportunities.

This ensures it is the perfect way to get involved, meet new people and transition into other areas of the club’s racing programme.

Mike Dawe, the vice commodore for sailing at HISC, believes that initiatives such as Get Racing are crucial in addressing an increasingly-common problem at clubs across the country.

He’s looking to keep young sailors involved beyond the age of 18 when they can tend to drift away.

‘As a sport, our big problem is keeping kids involved in racing after they reach 18 – every club has a drop off in participation,’ said Dawe.

‘With kids who come through the youth training system, sailing fairly formulaic, long race courses is not what appeals to them – what they’re seeing is not what they want to do.

‘The Get Racing Club really helps address this because it’s organised, it’s shorter courses – but mostly it’s just fun to do.’

The confirmed 13 dates for the 2015 Get Racing Club events are April 11 and 25, May 16 and 30, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, September 5 and 9, and October 3.

To find out more about the Get Racing Club or to enquire about membership, email membershipsecretary@hisc.co.uk.