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News Reports and Stories from 2011


If you are a participant in any news-worthy event please submit a brief report, preferably with a few pictures, to: Geoff

Featured on this page:

Sailability Winter Activities, by Geoff Warren Training Weekend, 24 - 25th September 2011
East & East Midlands Region Sailability UKSA Cross Channel Cruise 16th - 21st September Sail for Gold Regatta
Summer Challenge Results River Orwell trip 30th July 2011
Access Traveller Series at Pitsford, 2nd July Drascombe Rally, 1st-2nd June
Yachting at UKSA, Isle of Wight, 12th-15th May New Access 303 Launched
Sail Training Weekend, April 9th & 10th Barclaycard Raffle raises £6000 for Northampton Sailability
Steve Nicholson Trophy 2011 Allan and Jenny attend Principals' Conference

Winter Activities: Report by Geoff Warren

Plas Menai, 28th-30th October 2011. The last sailing trip this year was to Plas Menai in Wales at the end of October, where we enjoyed some exciting sailing in strong winds using J80 Keelboats. Michelle helmed the winning J80 on the race day and was assisted with good tactical advice from Roy, in fact every time we tacked Roy was upside down but quiet unconcerned by this!

Many members said they felt sad that our sailing activities would not start again until next April and that they would miss sailability during the Winter break, however there is still a lot of activity to be enjoyed.

Mulled Wine and Mince Pies. We had our winter sail on Saturday 3rd December, in which some hardy individuals sailed the Drascombe long boat "Harry Cockburn" and enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine. Grant and John Norman also organised a safety boat course.

Winter Working Party. Our hard working Boatswain, John Knight, organised a working party on the following Thursday to winterise boats (remove masts and invert etc), we also brought ashore the floating H pontoon. The wind was so strong that if we had missed our grip the pontoon would have drifted down to the causeway! This is better exercise than going to the gym; it's also free and useful work!

John has a difficult job keeping our boats in the good order, we can all help in this respect by ensuring that boats are assembled, used & put away in good order, John has agreed to give some advise and training on this at the March briefing days. These days are scheduled for 26th, 30th & 31st March. During the winter, John Knight will be carrying out repairs & maintenance on our Fleet to ensure that everything is ship shape for the new season in April.

Steve Nicholson Trophy. The Sailing Club has asked for our assistance at the Steve Nicholson Trophy event on the 28th January.

Start 2012! There is a Sailability Winter Social scheduled for the 11th February. Sailing will be available subject to water level & weather! So if you want to blow away those winter cobwebs, come along and enjoy the bracing weather at Pitsford Water!


Training Weekend, 24th - 25th September 2011
Some pictures from a fabulous but tiring weekend!

A great training weekend! Gale force 6 didn't stop us having loads of fun! Thank you to Allan, Grant and everyone involved in helping to make the weekend so enjoyable.

Thanks to the strength of our team of instructors and the commitment of our members in quite challenging conditions we got a great result. The overall level of sailing skills in our organisation is so much higher as a result. We ran the level three course for the first time



East & East Midlands Region Sailability UKSA Cross Channel Cruise 16th to 21st September 2011

Cowes on the Isle of Wight, is the home base of the World's premier sail training school, The UK Sailing Academy. They have a comprehensive fleet of cruising yachts including some which are earmarked for use by sailors with disability, completely free of charge. This facility is available for everyone whatever their disability.

This year we travelled down to Cowes & boarded a French Built Jeaneau of 43 feet length. Our Skipper was John Norman, Yachtmaster Instructor & ex RN CPO, 1st Mate was Roy Child, Yachtmaster Coastal Skipper & former British National Access Champion, others were Competent Crew Karen & Michelle Blunden, Day Skippers Terry Sewel & myself.

Roy had previously prepared a Navigation plan and perhaps for the first time in history we managed to sail this plan!. We left Cowes & sailed down the Solent to Lymington, to be in a good position to pass through the Needles channel the next morning, this channel must be passed with a favourable tide, so this meant we had to get up at 5:00 a.m.

The forecast wind was NW 4 to 5, in fact the winds were stronger & we made fast passage to Cherbourg of about 12 hours & berthing in the Yacht Marina to enjoy gin & tonics and a nice home cooked meal.

The next day we made the passage to the Island of Aldeney, we moored on a bouy & were taken ashore by water taxi. Although very close to France this small island feels very British, we enjoyed Liberation real ale & traditional pub grub in the Divers Helmet Pub & could pay in sterling!

The next day we sailed back to Lymington making a fast passage due to stronger than forecast winds.

The trip statistics were, 206 miles sailed over 6 days including 8 night hours in winds up to force 8.

This was quite an adventurous trip but it is also possible to do day sailing, Karen acted as bursar & our costs for diesel , berthing fees, food etc were £60 each, a very modest sum for 6 days sailing, I should like to pass on many thanks to John Norman & Jenny Jeffs for their efforts in making this all possible with UKSA.

It is also possible to obtain Offshore sailing qualifications such as Competent Crew & Day Skipper through UKSA, so don't be shy, come on the next trip!

Report by Geoff Warren

Sail for Gold Regatta

Northampton Sailability Sails for Gold

Northampton Sailability held their 'Sail for Gold' Regatta on Saturday, 3rd September, and by all accounts it was a resounding success. There had been a rush of hurried activity on the run up to the event, with boats being cleaned and polished in readiness for the big day. A fleet of twenty boats comprising Laser 2000, Flying Fifteen, Access 303, Solo, Sunbird, Challenger, Gull, Martin 16, Tinker Traveller, Access 2.3 and Wayfarer took to the water. Able bodied and disabled sailors were represented within each class of boat. Three races were held under very windy conditions, with gusts of up to gale force 5 testing the skills of all competitors.


Meg and Jo Elliott

Perhaps the most inspirational sailing came from Meg Elliott who, together with her twin sister Jo sailing in an Access 303, raced away to not one but two gold medals. Meg has made a remarkable recovery from horrendous injuries incurred in an accident, and she is now a regular sailor at Northampton Sailability. Indeed the racing turned out to be a real family affair, with the girls' father Richard racing in a Gull.

The day was not without incident, as Mary Taylor crewing in a Laser 2000 recalls, 'having completed a perfect tack how did I find myself slowly but surely tipping up and over into the water? The helm executed a perfect man overboard manoeuvre and hauled me back in over the stern. I gathered what shreds of dignity I had left and we completed the final race intact'.


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Roy has time for a cheery wave


Roy Child, overall winner of Northampton Sailability's Summer Challenge series of races reflects 'We were all looking forward to a good day and we weren't disappointed. I had elected to sail the Sunbird, a single- seater keelboat. I managed to get in some good starts in all three races, heading for the windward mark with the faster dinghies. However, I paid the price of ignoring my own advice in that you can't get the sheets out of the cleats on a Sunbird when powered up! I managed to keep a midfield position in all three races. A great time was had - we must do it again!'


Andy and Rachel in competitive mood!


Andy Scudamore helming in a Martin 16 adds, 'I enjoyed the whole event with racing in difficult conditions, followed by a scrumptious barbeque and a friendly chat amongst competitors'.

Martyn and Sue Emberson racing in a Laser 2000, and Gabriel & Vivienne Leeming racing in a Flying Fifteen were also worthy winners of the S4G medals. But in true Olympic spirit, it is not the winning but the taking part that really counts. Every competitor has to be congratulated for their effort and racing skills.

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John and his crew rig the Wayfarer


Northampton Sailability has demonstrated the S4G spirit in splendid style. The sailing was inspirational. So many volunteers worked hard behind the scenes; helping to launch and recover boats, assisting our disabled sailors, and manning the safety boat; their support was invaluable. Yes, the celebrations lasted well into the evening with a wonderful barbeque and plenty of beer and bubbly being downed! It was a magnificent event, and a day when Northampton Sailability not only sailed for Gold, but they truly ruled the waves!


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Roger puts the Challenger through its paces

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Close encounters in the Martin 16s!


Many thanks to Allan for organising this well-supported event

Allan Henson, Northampton's S4G Administrator, sums up the event quite nicely, 'The day was successful beyond my wildest dreams. It was good to see able bodied and disabled sailors represented in every race'.

Click Full Results to see who won!



Congratulations to Roy for yet another series win, with a perfect score of 10 first places.

Many thanks to Dave and his team for organising another enjoyable and challenging challenge!


Michelle, Rachael and Richard master a Wayfarer

River Orwell trip 30th July 2011

Sixteen people from Northampton Sailability spent 30th July sailing on the River Orwell.

Nigel Holmes from the Woolverstone project Sailability group was our host, organising four boats: two Wayfarers, a Hawk 20 and a Drascombe Longboat.

For many of us the Hawk and Wayfarer were a new experience and even though we thought we knew about Drascombes, having booms, no bumkin, hardly any cleats and different rigging showed we still had plenty to learn.

The wind was light and the sky overcast but it was interesting sailing on a tidal river, having to avoid the many moored boats, the busy traffic in the main channel and the ever widening mud banks as the tide went out.


Roy and Priscilla learn the ropes on the Hawk

Emma, Grant and Roger keep the Hawk on an even keel


Stewart, Terry and Nigel (our host) try a Drascombe Longboat with Boom!

In the morning we sailed down river before returning for lunch at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. In the afternoon some chose to continue their introduction to Wayfarers but several people switched boats before we sailed up river towards Ipswich and under the Orwell bridge. Some of us had to leave after the end of sailing to head back for evening commitments in Northamptonshire but others had a meal together to round off the day.

Thanks to Chris Weston for organising this enjoyable day out.


Access Traveller Series at Pitsford, 2nd July

The Access event was well attended by competitors and helpers, but sadly not by the wind!

Nevertheless a good time was had by all

Download Full Results



Our own Chris Dabbs wins the 303 double handed class


Drascombe Rally, 1st-2nd June

A few photos from the succesful event held at our club




Yachting at UKSA, Isle of Wight, 12th-15th May

This was an absolutely fabulous weekend organised by John Norman

The crew comprised:


Over the long weekend we sailed a total of 128 miles.

The first leg was from Cowes to Portsmouth. From there we sailed on to Brighton and finally back to Cowes.

We experienced strong winds, up to force 5 or 6

We worked really well and the whole team pulled together to make it a wonderful sailing experience. Congratulations to Michelle who completed her 'Competent Crew' course with flying colours and to Anne who gained the 'Start Yachting' certificate.

We are so lucky to have this opportunity. UKSA couldn't have been more helpful. They even donated our excess fuel costs to charity!!

Many thanks to the whole team, especially John, for a truly fabulous weekend. Here's to the next trip!


New Access 303 Launched

Our fleet of Access 303 dinghies, our most popular boat, has been augmented with the purchase of a new Access 303.

This welcome addition has been made possible by the generous grant we received from Northamptonshire County Council last year, which also covered the pontoon extension and some other essential equipment.(See Archive page, 2010)

Roy (who else!) was first to try the boat out and it has his seal of approval! Nice to see you back on the water Roy.

This boat was ordered to be fitted with a "Sip and Puff" control system to enable full hands-off control, and the delivery and installation of this is eagerly awaited.


Sail Training Weekend, April 9th & 10th
Sail Training

Eight students and seven instructors are grouped
around the Sailability safety boat.

Pictures from Northampton Sailability's Spring Sail Training weekend held on April 9/10 in perfect weather conditions.


Sail Training

Whilst a shore session is going on the boats are moored
to the recently extended pontoon.


Sail Training

Michelle steers the Longboat with David as instructor crew.


Sail Training

Karen receives Seamanship instruction from Richard
in the Sport 16.


Sail Training

Anne, Christopher and Jane go solo in Access dinghies
accompanied by their instructor Andy.


Barclaycard Raffle raises £6000 for Northampton Sailability

Just before Christmas Barclaycard advised Northampton Sailability, based at Pitsford Reservoir, that they would be holding a Christmas Raffle, the proceeds of which would be donated to the charity.

The raffle was a great success and £3000 was raised on the day by the kind donations of Barclaycard staff.

Barclaycard then kindly agreed to match the funds raised making a grand total of £6000.



Northampton Sailability is a registered charity, run by volunteers, which gives disabled people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience the freedom that sailing can give.


On April 1st a number of Barclaycard employees visited the Sailability facility and were able to see for themselves the range of craft available to disabled people.

The highlight of the day was the presentation of the cheque by Phil Vickers of Barclaycard to Chris Weston, the Chairman of Northampton Sailability.

This fabulous donation will enable Sailability to now purchase a badly needed new safety boat.

This will ensure that Northampton Sailability can continue to offer the opportunity to disabled people to experience the freedom of sailing.


A very big thank you to Phil Vickers at Barclaycard,his PA Diana Cull and Jayne Streeter together with all the staff at Brackmills who made this possible.


Steve Nicholson Trophy 2011

The Happy Sailability Resue Team

A team of Northampton Sailability members played a big part, on and off the water, in making this annual event at Northampton Sailing Club the most successful ever. This is one of the top four UK winter dinghy racing events in the UK and attracted 179 entries. This was greater than last year's record of about 130 and the site was bursting at the seams with cars, boats, trailers and people.



Steve was a well known figure in the dinghy world locally and nationally. A life long sufferer from asthma he died unexpectedly at far too young an age. This event which bears his name is run at no cost by NSC so that all proceeds can be donated to Asthma Research. This year a little over £3,000 was raised for this very worthy cause. At the prize giving, the NSC Commodore, Rob Jackson, paid tribute to the contribution to the success of the day made by Northampton Sailability members.


Allan and Jenny attend Principals' Conference

On the weekend of 5/6 February, Allan and Jenny attended the annual RYA conference for principals of a Recognised Training Centre to find out about the latest developments.

Keeping up to date with ideas and developments is vital so that we can maintain the high standards in our centre of which we are all so proud.