South Staffs Burgee
South Staffordshire Sailing Club
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© Neil Hawkins
© Neil Hawkins

Training at SSSC

By Pam and Peter Waine

Training started at SSSC in the 1950s. There were very few sailing clubs in the Midlands fifty years ago, unlike today where we have twenty clubs within a radius of twenty miles of Birmingham. Sailing magazines were very few and covered little to help a newcomer to the sport.

For the first season on the water after the official opening, sailing was allowed in any sort of boat and therefore training was not possible. However in the 1956 season, sailing was strictly limited to two classes: the Firefly, which was considered ‘lively' for the more mature member, and the more stable GP14, which quickly became the boat to learn to sail in and rapidly became the most popular boat in the club.

As the club grew in size, the Cadet class developed as children and younger members increased in number, but it proved under-canvassed on the sheltered Calf Heath reservoir.

In the early years, Peter Waine found a lecture room for Tuesday evening sessions, in the Wolverhampton Adult Education Centre, at Compton Grange, for members who were eager to learn more about dinghy sailing. A varied series of lectures was arranged each year and enthusiastically attended. Most new members had no experience of sailing and little prior knowledge of the sport they were entering.

Formal training initially started at SSSC about twelve years before the RYA schemes began. Peter adopted a military services scheme that worked well with the enthusiasm displayed by all new members. The club's success spread and the Sports Council approached SSSC to teach non-members to sail.