South Staffs Burgee
South Staffordshire Sailing Club
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What our members enjoy about sailing at South Staffs!

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As well as the Case Studies below from current members you can also read what it's like to Learn to Sail from a current student in her 'Beginner's Blog' HERE.


Samuel Bailey, 14 (SSSC member for 2 years and regular competitor in club racing)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

I was introduced to sailing when I visited Chase water with the school in May 2013. From that day on I have love the fact of being able to control a boat and always being able to learn new things all the time. On top of that I find that it is such an exciting and fun sport that provides a real adrenaline rush, plus it's something different!

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

Apart from the fact SSSC is right on my doorstep, the things that really attracted me to SSSC is the people. Everyone is extremely willing to offer up advice on how you are able to improve and get better at the sport. Also, SSSC offers good competitive races that are fun to take part in let alone getting a good result.

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

What do I particularly enjoy about sailing, tough question, which I would like to answer with 'everything' but no. Personally, sailing offers a thing which other sports cannot, enjoyment! (I'm not sporty!) I love the way in which a boat is able to speed through the water while you fight to keep it upright. As well, sailing offers a good motto "sail right or capsize!" which can be fun at many times (especially when it’s blowing a gale!)

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members and are they available to help?

All of the club members couldn't be more friendly and easy to get to know! They are probably some of the most friendly people I have ever met. All of the members of SSSC are all willing to help despite their sailing ability. Everybody has something to offer and teach. One really good thing is the fact everybody will teach the same aspect differently which allows you to try it and if it doesn't work for you, try another way! On top of all that, I can't stress enough how helpful and devoted all of the training coaches are to helping everyone.

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Kamila Czartolomna, 14 (SSSC member & National Honda RYA Youth RIB Champion)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

Sailing appealed to me because I wanted to do something different that not many people were doing which still seemed to be enjoyable, I liked the idea of having a skill that not that many others had even experienced, sailing can also be exhilarating at times and very fun.

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

When I went there for my first time on one of the open days I really enjoyed it, and I thought that it would be a great skill to have, so I wanted to join the club and hopefully progress into becoming a fairly good sailor.

When did you learn to drive the RIB and what appealed to you about taking part in the RIB champs?

I first started to learn to drive the RIB when I was 11, and when I took part in the RIB champs I enjoyed the whole experience, but especially having such strong competition, which enabled me to learn from my mistakes each time I competed and get better as I competed further.

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members and are they available to help?

I’ve been at the club for about 5 years now and I have gotten to know most of the members by now, so yes I think that it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members. Most of the members are usually very helpful, and I rely on many of them with my training in both sailing and power boating.

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Mark Fleming, 22 (SSSC member for 14 years & GP14 Fleet Captain)

What got you into sailing?

My sister actually. She went sailing with her friend at West Kirby and loved it. Dad also used to sail yachts in the Clyde so I don’t think it was too difficult for him to be persuaded! It took me 10 years to get properly into it though!

What age did you learn to sail?

I started learning to sail when I was 8 years old. Like a lot of young lads, I was also heavily into football and played that for 9 months of the year, so sailing was very much a second sport at the time. I picked a lot up in the 2/3 months of the year spare time that I had with the help from the likes of Mike Warbrick, Steve Troke and Tony Hotchkiss who, luckily, are still very much a part of the training team.

What do you get out of travelling with the Club to events such as Southport, Newquay and GP14 events?

Through my “youth” years, Southport 12 hour was something I got a huge buzz off with all the people standing and cheering you on, especially at the start of the race which is a job I seemed to get a lot of the time! I go where I think I get good racing and where good sailing club events such as Newquay are. I met a lot of people around the country who are still good friends of mine now. If I know they are going then it makes it more appealing to tow the boat tens to hundreds of miles and go racing for a weekend. It is definitely the people and the memories from them that make the event.

You're quite involved with the club outside of racing with Westcroft and Fleet captaincy, why did you decide to give time back to the club and how important is that to you?

I was involved with Westcroft a lot between 2011 and 2014 and regretfully I cannot be now because of the fact I have a full time job now. I will be indebted to Chris Beddow for a long time as it was an amazing opportunity and experience to watch children and young adults grow more confidence, better attitudes and new skills. I also picked up new skills in terms of communication that I would have not developed had I not been involved. If I didn’t have to work I would go back and work for free again!

With regards to the fleet captaincy, I was approached by Mike Senior in 2012 as he wanted to pass it on. I took it on as I had a lot of time on my hands being a university student where, you know, academic work time was limited. At first I wasn’t sure how the more “experienced and wiser” generation would take to a young 19 year old setting out training sessions, pestering them to sail and saying this is what we are going to do. But, I am 22 now and still have the job so I must have done something right. The thing is, I do enjoy doing it – especially when you see people

I gave back to the club because they invested time (to teach me to sail and race) and money in me to get my Dinghy Instructor and my Powerboat Instructor. I enjoy the environment and the interaction with current and new members. I also enjoy watching people grow in confidence in their sailing and get better, and I get real satisfaction when someone comes up to me and says, “I did this and I get why I did it”. If that is not enough to want to give back then I really don’t know what is.

Aside from learning a new skill what have you got out of being a member at South Staffs and why would you recommend the club to other young people?

I have got so much out of being a member at South Staffs. I have met so many new people, young and old, and have subsequently built friendships/relationships with them that mean that I look forward to coming down at a weekend and racing and socialising. The socials are great too and everyone is welcoming, you can talk to anyone and they will help you with anything sailing related. The youths are not separate from the adults, everyone mingles and makes it a real family feel.

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Rob Hicklin (SSSC member along with wife Julie and daughters Connie, Meg and Annie)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

We were looking for something to do with the kids – thought about getting a caravan – but bought a Boat instead (small Yacht on Windermere). Came to SSSC to improve our sailing. I bought a GP14 for £250 and then spend many hours getting on the water. The kids started doing Sunday mornings, started racing joined RYA squads etc…

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

Local and, to be honest, the cheapest club the kids were involved with. We spent more each year on swimming lessons than we did in fees for the club. Also Neil Hawkins (Julies brother) was already a member – if only for a few months.

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

Racing. It’s all about the sport for us. I have done lots of sports and starting a new one is a great challenge. Julie says that I used to come home from sailing having not finished last happier than finishing a Golf competition third out of about 60 or 70.

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members?

Engaging with an established group is always a challenge. I have never had any problems with any of the members and generally we count them as friends now. But you need to get involved. I am an instructor, Julie and I have both been on the Sailing Committee, Julie has been Social Secretary and we are on the Bar rota.

How have you found taking up a new sport as an adult?

No problem. It’s a skill and like all skills it takes time and patience. There is always something to learn and a lot of longevity in racing. You can see that in the number of people who have been sailing for years!

Why would you recommend South Staffs to others?

Because, on balance, if you want to sail then, having visited lots and lots of clubs there are none which are better. Different but not better.

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Kate and John Edge (SSSC members who joined in their 50's)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

Sitting on a beach in Tobago looking at the boats anchored off, all having a good time. Speaking to one of the skippers he told me to join my local sailing club, leant to sail then buy an old small yacht! We ended up with a 35 year old GP14 dinghy and never looked back.

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

Originally when I did some research (via Google) SSSC was the closest, and although the original web site was pretty crap at that time it was still better than the rest. When we visited the club for the first time the commodore at the time abandoned his racing and took us out for a sail round the lake. We were then told that all the training had finished for the year, and I was ready to look for another club, but Jeremy Jones said if we turned up the following week he would give us private tuition, so we did level 1 with Jeremy and did level 2 later with all the other level 1 students. Thanks Jeremy!!

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

It's not just the sailing, it's all that goes with it, particularly the camaraderie at the club and all the new friends we have made and hang out with. I have to say it's taken over our lives!

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members?

It was fairly easy, some more than others, it helps having a common interest, so even those that are not very communicative you can have a constructive conversation, about sailing of course.

How have you found taking up a new sport as an adult?

It wasn't a problem, particularly with good training, both also being fairly fit, but it was the learn to race course that really sealed it with us, I found that the most addictive side of things. Even though we were in our late 50's.

Why would you recommend South Staffs to others?

I would recommend it because it's so friendly, there is always someone to give advice and help, and really so much going on. This is the best social life we've ever had.

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Michelle Evans (SSSC member, joined in her 30's)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

I used to do lot of big boat sailing on Windermere in my 20's and on a boat trip on holiday in Australia in 2010 I realised how much I missed being on the water so I decided to try dinghy sailing as I couldn't afford a yacht!

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

I was Googling Learn to Sail courses and drew up a list of local clubs to visit, South Staffs was first on the list because they had an Open Day the soonest so I went along. Everyone seemed so friendly and although I was quite scared at my first outing in a little boat I signed up there and then for the course and never looked back.

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

I'm quite competitive so it's the racing for me, I sail in a GP14 and we have a really good fleet at South Staffs so it's always a challenge. I also like that it doesn't necessarily matter how fit you are or how old to be good - I regularly get beaten by 20 year olds and 70 year olds alike! The conditions are never the same from race to race and you never stop learning so I find it a very addictive pass time. It is also great that members travel to events at other sailing clubs together so I've got to know people all over the country who sail GP14s and experience racing with a 100 other boats on the sea.

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members?

Everyone is very friendly but it did take me a while to get to know people as I joined on my own. I found that galley duty was quite good for getting to know people's names and being on the Social team also helped. It's like with most things I guess, you get out what you put in and there were some really nice members who kept getting me involved in racing and social events until I got to know more people.

How have you found taking up a new sport as an adult?

Easy enough but seeing how quickly the younger members pick things up and advance makes me wish I'd taken sailing up at a younger age!

Why would you recommend South Staffs to others?

Great people, great sailing, and a really high standard of training at all levels.

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Lisa Carpenter (joined SSSC in 2014 and within months went from novice to sailing in the GP14 World Championships!)

Why did sailing appeal to you?

Sailing was something that was on my 'bucket list things to do before I die' and having had a go at wind surfing and a brief go on a catamaran whilst on holiday I thought I would give sailing a go. 
 
What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

I had known other people that had attended the club before and as it was local thought I would give it a go.

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

I enjoy the freedom sailing gives you. It invigorates you even after a hard week at work and enables you to switch off to all the stresses that day to day life brings. You literally can't think of anything else but sailing whilst out on the water, especially in high winds!!! It;s also great exercise without you realising you are doing it and beats the gym any time!
 
Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members? 

Having come to the club on my own (not as a family member) I was quite nervous attending but was teamed up with another lady (Clare Waymont) who was a similar age to myself on my Level 1 & 2 sailing course. This really helped and we have formed a good friendship and shared our learning experiences (and disasters) together. We've even become part of the social committee which is also helping us integrate with the rest of the club members. I found most of the members of the club really friendly and willing to help and support in any way they can.
 
How have you found taking up a new sport as an adult?

Well, what can I say? A massive learning curve. I think taking anything on as an adult is always harder than when you are younger but I'm enjoying the challenges it brings. Its great to see that sailing is for all ages and not just for the youngsters and I find both young and older sailors really inspiring. I just wish I had taken this sport up at an earlier age as I feel I've missed out so much having not started this sport at an earlier age!!

Why would you recommend South Staffs to others?

South Staffs is a great club to be a member of.  Its has a real sense of community and everyone puts in so much work to make the club what it is today and make everyone feel welcome.  Its like having a second family, much to the disgust of my own family :-\  Having joined the social committee, its made me really aware of all the hard work needed behind the scenes to make the club work so well.  I would recommend anyone to come along to the club and give sailing a go.  It doesn't matter what age you are, young or old, sailing is open to all and is not only a great form of exercise but a real sense of belonging to a community!!


Neil Hawkins (Family Member and past Commodore)

What attracted you to South Staffs Sailing Club?

Having looked around and spoken to friends who had been to the club, we went as a family to the Open Day and were impressed with the setup for young children, with all the equipment provided for Junior training and coaching included with family membership. The members were very willing to share their experiences and it was obvious that many families had a long relationship with the club as the children grew and moved from the Junior training into the Youth scheme and then into Adult racing.

What do you particularly enjoy about sailing?

Having the ability to just arrive at the club with no pre planning and get out onto the water all year round, gives the flexibility as a family to treat the facilities as an extension of our social life. Apart from the racing aspects, the children have experienced a safe and inspiring place where they mix with all ages and have developed a confidence and maturity from being around the range of club members throughout our ten years at the club. With the ability to learn how to sail, drive powerboats and to mix fun and learning in a safe, healthy outdoor environment, the whole family has benefitted from our association with the sport of sailing.

Do you think it has been fairly easy to get to know other club members?

As with any club environment, it can be difficult to find out who everyone is, but at South Staffs we were encouraged as new members to get involved with social nights and training sessions in areas other than just sailing. By attending powerboat courses, helping with water and galley duties, even travelling to events at other clubs, you can quickly get to know a core of regular members who will also be ready to give you plenty of advice on sailing, racing and even buying your first boat! For the even more willing new members, the various committees are always on the lookout for new members who may have work/life skills that could (voluntarily) benefit the club e.g. electricians, DIY, building, administration etc!

How have you found taking up a new sport as an adult?

Having never sailed until the age of 40, it was a challenge with which you never stop striving to improve. However, we can guarantee at South Staffs, that you will never be short of advice at the club in all aspects of equipment and tactics, with regular training days and help from some of the best Dinghy sailors in the country. The physical demands can be tailored to meet your own ability and within your own limits. However, the sport will generally improve your health and wellbeing, even with the occasional aches and pains after a day of racing (or social event!)

Why would you recommend South Staffs to others?

The all-inclusive nature of the club really helps to encourage new members and their whole family to join in the activities, even if that does not mean necessarily even going out on the water. We have some people who are just social members and, of course, sailing members from toddlers to those of advancing years (80+) and it is a sport that will benefit your health, competitiveness and social life greatly. With an active social programme and events all the year round, on and off the water, the club quickly becomes a way of life!