ACF Sailing – Update 13-14th April 2019


It’s all about time on the water and the community of Cowes coming together for a sport we all love.

The perfect weekend has just flown by at the blink of an eye, ok, it could have had a little less wind so that we could have played with spinnakers more but with so much success it did not matter.

It was literally like a celebration on the water, being our last winter training weekend of our first winter of re-launching as a trial, that could not have gone better. We have just grown from strength to strength and absolutely loving the smiles and feedback from disabled and able-bodied individuals.

For those that don’t know all as we are aiming to achieve is enabling disabled people to race in an equal and inclusive environment with able bodied people by helping supply equipment and racing opportunities. The fact you also get qualified coaches, support and an fantastic environment to socialize in and making new friends is all a bonus.

So this weekend we had 16 people out sailing each day, in total it was actually 18 over 2 days. It meant we had for the first time (not including the fundraiser over boxing day) where we had 4 Sonar’s out racing.

But this weekend was one of a kind that also lead to Matt (me) losing his voice! Some would say a little peace! Haha, but earlier in the week before, the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) contact us about helping train up some of their members who are aiming to attend an international club team racing event in New York which was to be held in Sonar’s and wanted advice on getting a Sonar to sail fast. Sadly it clashed with one of our weekends, but this actually was a huge bonus for us and fantastic that they said yes to the offer to join in with us.

We ended up completely teaming up, they had chartered 4x Sonar’s from the Island Sailing Club, brought along around another 16 individuals, put on a team to lay some marks and run the starts, we dragged Andrew Cassell himself out, who along with Matt, ran the RYS team a separate briefing and supported coaching from the Rib on Saturday and sailed on Sunday. This charity is not in his name for no reason, he only went and lead the first race on the Sunday with a great lead and clear ease (can you believe he’s 77 this year).

With a weekend of around 15 gusting 20 knots and racing/training around in Osborne bay, on Saturday we decided it was all about getting to know the boats and teams, then building up pressure in a gradual form. So kicking off with free sailing on a windward-leeward course having to complete 6 tacks and 3 gybes as a warm up. Then onto some practise trigger pulls (meaning the approach to accelerate at the start) and some lane holding (holding the boat speed and position off the line) for 1 minute on Starboard tack. To keep the pressure off we split the fleet into 2, RYS off first then the ACF boats on a sequence of 3,2,1, Go.

This enabled the boats to have a nice long line, not to busy, nice and calm yet then after that minute, then racing to the windward mark. After 3 rounds we followed it up by doing exactly the same but bringing both the ACF and RYS boats onto the same line, thus on Saturday had 7 boats all together doing the same thing for another 3 starts. Which just helped bring up the pressure and distraction of more boats on the race course.

Then we went into a few 2 lap races to end with a 5,4,1, GO. It just spoke for itself with it being game on, pressure increased and with everyone buzzing from a great day. The feel in the CCYC was amazing afterwards with all of the sailors filling up the club.

The next day Steve briefed the ACF sailors whilst Matt briefed the RYS team. On Sunday we took out a 4th boat out putting 8 boats on the water. This time we raced everyone on the same line with ACF sailors simply putting their all into the racing whilst RYS sailors were team racing each other around the course at the same time, creating some fantastic racing. Sunday also brought with it some rolling waves so some real skill from the sailors and opportunities to practise and for some to learn on how to surf waves.

Again at the end of the day we had our amazing soup in the club made by Lindsey Hart and supported by the CCYC. But our relationship with the club is fantastic as it just keeps growing from strength to strength. This weekend we had the Admiral, Commodore, rear commodore and new committee member out sailing and helping us plus other members. We always have fantastic pre and post support from the Bosun and his team and have a fantastic welcome from the members as we arrive back to the club.

Truthfully that club environment is our true aim, the social inclusion of disabled and able-bodied, not caring about abilities but just great banter about the days sailing and this is being achieved which we couldn’t be happier about.

We still can’t believe we pulled off this weekend and yes we will lose a little help from here in for the summer due to some able help stepping back into their own boats for the Summer but we are so exited for the activity moving forwards, such as from next week aiming to join in with the Island Sailing Club Tuesday and East Cowes Thursday night racing plus much more.

But the next big event will be the CCYC members regatta on the 27th-28th April and hope to see many of you out there. We have 3 boats full but if enough interest we may be able to fill a 4th, so if interested to come and play then do get in touch via asap.

Hugh thank you to all that made this weekend happen, from the sailors, volunteers, CCYC and members, RYS and Members, Trustees and all those supporters encouraging us to keep going.

Yours sincerely,

The ACF Sailing Team.

- A video of Andrew Cassell leading the Windward Mark can be found here


Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club

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