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News Reports and Stories from 2012

Featured on this page:

Mike Garlick and David Harris qualify as Senior Instructors Northampton Sailability Plas Menai Sailing Trip 26th to 28th October 2012 - Report by Geoff Warren
New Safety Boat Drivers East and East Midlands Region Sailability UKSA Solent Cruise, 30th September to 7th October 2012. Report by Geoff Warren
Richard Elliott Qualifies as Senior Instructor Shelley is presented with Gold Award
Barbara and Judy Promote Northampton Sailability Training Weekend, 22nd and 23rd September
Sail for Gold Regatta 2012, Prize-giving and BBQ, 1st September Rachel Morris wins Olympic medal
Summer Challenge Results Table Chris Dabbs Carries the Olympic Torch
Orwell Visit 9th June 2012 Obituary: Amanda Tinline
Drascombe Association Rally, Pitsford, 6th and 7th June 2012 Northampton Sailiability Jubilee Sail for Gold Event: Young People's Race
Hollowell Sailing Club raises funds for Northampton Sailability The 2012 Sailing Season has commenced!
St Alban's Charity Players Raise £2000 for Northampton Sailability Obituary: Eddie Pickering
Steve Nicholson Memorial Regatta New Safety Boat Drivers
Sailability Receives the New RIB at the London International Boat Show

Mike Garlick and David Harris qualify as Senior Instructors

Congratulations to Mike Garlick and David Harris on gaining their SI qualifications.

We welcome them to the Si team at Northampton Sailability and look forward to them making a valuable contribution to our activities in the new season.

Northampton Sailability Plas Menai Sailing Trip 26th to 28th October 2012 - Report by Geoff Warren

This year 13 members and volunteers set off for North Wales, for a weekend of sailing at the Sport for Wales Sailing Centre at Plas Menai. This is located about 4 miles north of Caernarfon on the banks of the Menai straits facing the beautiful island of Anglesey.

The Centre is very modern and clean with friendly efficient staff, good disabled facilities, a 17 metre swimming pool, climbing wall, gymnasium, games room and provides good hearty food for hungry sailors.

Plas Menai have a good selection of boats, including J80 keelboats, dinghies, Dart Catamarans, RIBs, canoes and Kayaks.

The Menai straits experience strong tidal streams, with a Spring range of up to 8 metres between high and low water, this means that crews for the J80s are ferried out by RIBs to the moored boats. All of our disabled sailors coped well with this arrangement, but this could prove difficult with certain types of disability. The scenery is very beautiful, on a clear day you can see the summit of Mount Snowdon in the distance.

We all met up on the Saturday morning and were briefed by our Senior instructor Trigger. Richard Strange, Meg Elliot, Christine Allen and Emma Dakin opted to sail Dart Catamarans and dinghies. Roy Child, Roger Bastow, Brian Thake, John Knight, Dave Allen and myself sailed a J80 in wind speeds up to Force 5.

After sailing it was very refreshing to enjoy a swim in the pool and a few pints of beer in the bar.

On the Sunday the wind had increased to Force 7, therefore we split into 2 crews and raced 2 J80s in exciting conditions. Mooring the J80s with wind against tide was an interesting exercise, involving sailing downwind with just the jib and into tide, we never get to practice this at Pitsford as we have no tides!

The non sailors, Christine, Maggie and Joanne, enjoyed touring the nearby towns of Bangor and Caernafon. There is an impressive castle at Caernafon built by the English as a defense against the rebellious Welsh, fortunately they are much more friendly nowadays!

This trip cost £160 per sailor and £82 for non sailors, including all meals and represents good value for money, so if you feel tempted, come along next year and enjoy some exciting sailing in beautiful scenery.

New Safetyboat Drivers

Congratulations to:

on qualifying as Safetyboat Drivers on a November weekend with appalling weather conditions.

Many thanks to John Norman and Geoff Warren for running this fantastic course, and providing us with the very necessary trained volunteers to keep Northampton Sailability running efficiently.

East and East Midlands Region Sailability UKSA Solent Cruise, 30th September to 7th October 2012. Report by Geoff Warren

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 and boarded the 35 foot Westerley Class Yacht Brightside. Our Skipper was John Norman, Yachtmaster Instructor and ex RN CPO, 2nd Mate was Roy Child, Yachtmaster Coastal Skipper and former British National Access Champion, Day Skipper Roger Bastow with myself as 1st Mate.

John and I had previously prepared a Navigation plan, this was tricky as UKSA had insisted on certain restrictions and we had a smaller yacht than previously, although the Westerly proved to be a good sea boat in rough weather. Initially we had hoped to sail to the Bay of Biscay but due to very adverse weather we were forced to sail in the Solent. Although the Solent is fairly sheltered it presents challenging sailing conditions with strong tidal currents, sand banks and very busy shipping, ranging from super tankers, cruise liners, ferries, hovercraft and numerous yachts and small craft.

We left Cowes on Sunday 1st October and sailed down the Solent to Yarmouth IOW, berthing in the Marina. John and I went ashore and bought fish and chips which we ate aboard with a cup of tea ( UKSA have banned alcohol aboard all of their boats!).

The following day we sailed to Southampton via Hythe and berthed in Ocean Village Marina. Roy and Roger cooked a delicious meal aboard and due to the onboard alcohol ban we went ashore for a pint or two in a handy pub. Southampton is the main port for cruise liners and was the home port for the Titanic and home for most of the crew, let’s hope this isn’t an omen!

The next day we sailed to Haslar Marina at Gosport, across the river from Portsmouth Naval Dockyard. Going down Southampton Water we practised some blind navigation. This was quite interesting since as the navigator, I had to stay below at the chart table ( simulating zero visibility in fog ) and navigate the boat using the echo sounder ( no GPS ) and vague clues from the crew. When John said he could smell sulphur, I thought either that’s Fawley oil terminal or last night’s beer!


There was a storm warning issued for early the next morning. UKSA advised us to double all the mooring lines, which we did, also tying Roy’s wheelchair onto the pontoon. The force 10 storm hit us about 3:30 a.m. In the morning it was very noisy with really big waves in the harbour, but the boat and wheelchair survived to tell the tale!

The next day we stayed within the Portsmouth harbour area, practising evolutions, picking up buoys under sail and navigating up to Port Solent. We reberthed in Haslar and enjoyed a few pints of beer in the Lightship pub together with a few sea yarns. There are excellent views from here of the Historic Dockyard with iconic ships like the Victory and Warrior mixed with Type 45 destroyers and moth balled aircraft carriers.

The weather improved on the Friday, so we sailed down the Solent to Lymington. The DJ Chris Evans, has a superyacht here and there was a lively party going on in the pub, but being lightweights, we soon turned in.

On the Saturday we sailed back to Cowes. On entering the river Medina boats from the Tall Ships challenge were arriving, including Robin Knox Johnson and Jenny Jeffs on the Tall Ships Challenger 4. We hailed Jenny and arranged to meet for a pub meal in Cowes. The Pub had no food but the landlady was very friendly and sent out for an Indian Take away, which we washed down with real ale, what a nice way to finish our weeks cruise.

I should like to thank Skipper John and my crewmates Roy and Roger for a very enjoyable week afloat. The trip statistics were : 7 days sailing covering 111 sea miles in wind forces from force 3 to 7 and force 10 on Wednesday night.

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

Richard Elliott Qualifies as Senior Instructor
Richard Elliott

Congratulations to Richard, a very welcome addition to the Sailability SI team!

Richard has been a volunteer for a few years now and has taken a particular interest in the RYA Award scheme.

Among Richard's achievements this year are:

Richard is also expanding the light-hearted racing events for Young people, building on Jenny's excellent initiatives including the "Duck Hunt"

Richard says:

"Shelley demonstrated her sailing skills on Monday 22nd October in our end of season young people's 'Sail for Gold' race, coming first in the race around a triangular course. Chris Dabbs came second, sailing with a new member, but I am not sure he is young!"

"The popular 'Duck Hunt' was won by Nigel, another keen holder of the Gold award, who has become somewhat of an expert in this event! I hope we can build on our two races this year and continue to encourage all the young people to do their certificates.

A special mention is deserved of Chris and Ryan, who both got their bronze certificates, and Tom who gained his silver this year and won medals in the races."

Gold Award
Shelley is presented with Gold Award

Congratulations to Shelley on gaining her RYA Sailability Gold Award for sailing achievement, having previously earned the Bronze and Silver awards.

The award is based on the completion of twelve tasks demonstrating competence in the rigging, launching and sailing of Access and other dinghies

The Gold certificate of recognition is equivalent to level 1 of the RYA youth scheme and we hope she will go forward to level 2 and 3 next year.

Shelley was presented with her award by Priscilla, who together with Richard Elliott guided her through the required elements.

Well done Shelley!

Barbara and Judy
Barbara and Judy Promote Northampton Sailability

Barbara and Judy are pictured with the Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Centre for Independent Living, Mick Dillon.

They were at an ‘Inspiring Independence Event’ at the Castle Wellingborough on 18th October, promoting the work of Sailability.

Training Weekend, 22nd and 23rd September

The Training weekend was a great mixture of sunshine, wind and rain. That's Sailing! The following students worked hard in varied conditions to achieve their RYA certificates.

A big thank you to all the instructors who made the course happen

Congratulations to all participants for gaining these awards, and a big thankyou to Jenny and her helpers for running this weekend. - Ed

Sail for Gold Regatta 2012, Prize-giving and BBQ, 1st September
Sail for Gold

Northampton Sailability hosted a ‘Sail for Gold’ Regatta on September 1st. The regatta was part of the RYA’s nationwide initiative to celebrate the Start of the Paralympic sailing event at Weymouth.

Disabled and able-bodied sailors competed over four races, in lively conditions. Different types of boats were raced including Access Dinghies, Martin 16, Sport 16, Laser, Wayfarer and an inflatable sailing boat called a Tinker Traveller.

Rob Jackson, Commodore of Northampton Sailing Club presented the trophies. Five disabled helms were placed in the top six places. Allan Henson was the overall winner with Meg Elliott and her sister the runners up.

Chris Dabbs bought along his Olympic Torch, which he carried through Market Harborough, during the summer. It caused quite a stir and many members had their picture taken with the torch.

Sumer Challenge Presentation

Presentations were also made for the Sailability Summer Challenge.

At the start of the Challenge in June and July, several days racing had to be abandoned because of very high winds. Once the weather settled, we enjoyed some good racing.

As Roy was out of action for part of the season, Barbara and Wilf battled it out with Clive and Rachel, in a close contest. The points were tied at the end of Week 12, but Barbara and Wilf managed to claim the trophy on ‘count back’. Roy was in third place.

The Harry Cockburn Trophy was presented to Barbara by Rob Jackson - Well done Barbara and Wilf

A social evening followed, with families and friends enjoying a BBQ

The regatta took place under the banner of ‘Sail for Gold’, the RYA’s nationwide London 2012 initiative celebrating Britain's unmatched Olympic sailing heritage and inspiring more people to get out on the water more regularly.

Rob Jackson, Commodore of Northampton SC, said: “It was an honour to be invited to present the trophies and medals for the Northampton Sailability Summer Series and their Sail for Gold Regatta. It was a thrill to see able-bodied and disabled sailors racing together. If anyone needs to be told, this event really does demonstrate just how there is some aspect of our sport that is right for anyone and everyone."

Roy Child, Chairman of Northampton Sailability, said: "Many thanks to the organisers for making the event such a success I think the RYA Sail For Gold programme has initiated a new event for us, people are already talking about running it again next year."

Rachel Morris wins Olympic medal

Rachel Morris won bronze in the women’s Paralympic H1-3 road race at Brands Hatch time trial in spite of the doubt over her participation following an accident in July.

She won gold in the time trial in Beijing. Rachel was a member of Northampton Sailability for some years and successfully raced a Martin 16.

The first place tie was resolved in favour of Barbara and Wilf on the basis of "countback"

Congratulations to them, well done Clive and Rachel for a close competition, and commiserations to Roy who has been defeated for the first time in this event!

Many thanks to Dave Mabbut and his team for organising these races for us to enjoy

Chris Dabbs Carries the Olympic Torch

Chris Dabbs was given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch on its journey around the UK towards its final destination at the Olympic Stadium

Chris pushed along St Mary’s Road (A4304) in Market Harborough, Northants, from East to West near Andrew MacDonald Close to Adam and Eve Street in the afternoon of Monday July 2nd, starting by the Village Inn and ending at Starbucks near the centre of the town.

The typical English summer climate failed to dampen Chris's enthusiasm on this memorable occasion. Well done Chris!

Orwell Visit 9th June 2012

Only half-a-dozen of us made the journey to Ipswich this year, to sail on the river Orwell. Chris Weston had checked the tides before reserving the date, so they would be in our favour.

Nigel Holmes was again our host at the Woolverstone project, and being familiar with the system from last year, we were soon rigging a Hawk and a Drascombe longboat -Grant, Mary and Roger in the Hawk, whilst David (H), Richard (E), and Richard (E) tried the longboat. Unlike ours, this one has a boom on the mainsail.

Not surprisingly, the weather was typical of most of this year so far – unseasonably cool, occasional rain, and excessive wind. This made for a swift run downstream in the morning, sails reefed, and we turned early to allow plenty of time to beat back for lunch.

Soon after the turn, the genoa of the longboat came down – nothing to do with us, just a sheared rivet releasing the cleat holding the halyard, which quickly followed the sail. The pulley ran smoothly on the one occasion when a jam would have been useful. We tried to continue under 2 reefed sails, but could not make ground upstream and uptide, so eventually started the engine.

The prospect of removing the main mast or using a bosun’s chair to thread the halyard at the top of the mast did not appeal to us. Back at Woolverstone there are high walls and walkways to cater for the tidal range – we found a suitable spot and were able to take the longboat alongside and walk from the shore to the top of the mast.

After lunch the crews changed boats. This time we went upstream, underneath the modern road bridge that carries the A14 over the river. The Hawk is the faster boat, so we went a bit further upstream towards the start of the docks, before returning to meet the longboat at the bridge. After our return we adjourned to the Royal Harwich Yacht Club to use their facilities and take a late afternoon tea to fortify us for the journey home.

Amanda Tinline

Longer serving members of Northampton Sailability will remember Amanda who passed away early in June.

Grant Wilson recalls:

"It is sad news about Amanda, She was so active, she commuted absolutely, loved to fly an asymmetric in a good wind and I used to get into trouble for not pushing the boat hard enough."

"I remember the last time I sailed the Laser 2000 with her we had had a good sail and when came back to the pontoon she amazed a group of sailing club members by asking them to bring over her chair, they were really not expecting that!"

"I will always remember her because the wheelchair was not a barrier to the type of sailing she wanted to do."

Drascombe Association Rally, Pitsford, 6th and 7th June 2012

The Drascombe Association held its usual June rally, organised by Peter Rhodes. Following on from the Jubilee, numbers were down on last year. The rally provides a wonderful opportunity to see different types of Drascombes – imagine building a cabin over the front of one of our longboats, adding a tent over the middle, then living in it for the weekend ! Amid boat types of jolly boat, coaster, lugger, Peterboat, whillyboat, and LBC, “longboat” sounds fairly conventional.

We had some great sailing over the two days, fortunately most of it inbetween the rain showers. Wednesday morning it was full sail in a brisk wind. The rain and thunder came over lunch, and when it was time for the afternoon “race”, it was dead calm.



“Robbie’s Race” illustrates the different sailing characteristics of each type of boat - in 2011 there was only a minute between the first two finishers, but nearly an hour between first and last. The race is from the pontoon by the clubhouse to the Holcot buoy and back (without stopping for ice creams.) A simple handicap system was introduced this year – a 10 minute head start for the slowest boats, ahead of the bulk of the fleet, which in turn had a further 10 minutes ahead of the swiftest.

It almost worked - the “Deben Lugger” came first by a minute, but the bulk of the entries then followed steadily. The very gentle wind at the beginning favoured the lighter boats, as in 2011. However, the wind increased as the race progressed, until at the end we, (Frank, Roy, and Richard,) were sitting on the rail leaning out, and still in danger of heeling over and washing the floorboards. Serendipity benefitted from the stronger winds, closing rapidly on the leaders as we approached the finish, and eventually we took fourth place.


Anne’s photography from the safety boat was interrupted when Geoff Warren was asked to perform a couple of rescues from lee shores due to gear failure. That helped to keep the pirates (his grandsons) busy. Elaine served an early dinner in the evening so those who had travelled to Pitsford could get an early night.

Thursday threatened to be even wetter. Most of the rally attendees had a breakfast sail and then packed up to go home. We had a leisurely sail to Holcot, beating into a brisk wind, but then had clear run on port all the way back, merely pulling and releasing the sheets through every reaching position, ending close hauled just by the clubhouse as the wind over the dam started to affect us – the fastest return trip any of us could remember.

We had just put the boat away when the rain came – the afternoon was wet and windy, justifying our decision to pack up before we had lunch. More photos will be available on the Drascombe Association website at www.drascombe-association.org.uk

Access Racing

Close Encounters of the Competitive Kind

Northampton Sailiability Jubilee Sail for Gold Event: Young People's Race

On Monday 28th May, some fun races were organised by Jenny Jeffs and Richard Elliott for our 'younger' members in celebration of the Jubilee Sail for Gold initiative.

They were not straight forward races though.... those involved had to capture as many plastic ducks as they could! Pirate Jenny attacked the racers with water pistols and a water fight broke out mid race!


Michelle and Cheryl Retaliate!

There was Jubilee chaos with flags being waved and water pistols squirted at the opposition! David Horder tried to gatecrash the racing in the Challenger, he may well be a spritely 80 year old, but the races were strictly for our young set, and so the girls sent him away under threat of a soaking!

Pirate Jenny

Pirate Jenny with Water Pistol at the Ready!


Prizes were awarded; Nigel was so proud of his winner's medal! Michelle netted the most ducks and Meg was also a Jubilee racing winner!!!


A fun time was had on a hot and sunny day. Northampton Sailability members definitely know how to sail for Jubilee Gold!!!

Many thanks to Jenny and Richard for organising this chaos!

Hollowell SC Donation
Hollowell Sailing Club raises funds for Northampton Sailability

Hollowell Sailing Club raised £300 for Northampton Sailability during their open day held on 12th May.

Our chairman Roy received the cheque on behalf of Northampton Sailability from Russell Brayshaw, Commodore, and thanked everyone from Hollowell for their generosity.

The funds will be put to good use for the purchase and repair of sails for our fleet of six Access 303 dinghies.

New Season
The 2012 Sailing Season has commenced!

Monday April 2nd saw the first of the new season's regular sailing days.

We were fortunate to have a nice warm sunny day with light variable winds, and enough water to launch a variety of boats.

Altogether there were three Access 303s, the Sport 16 and a Martin 16 enjoying an early outing.

So don't put it off any longer, grab your gear and head for Pitsford on any sailing day.

See Diary page for all sailing days for the season.

St Alban's Charity Players Raise £2000 for Northampton Sailability

St Albans Players is an amateur dramatic society, and they raise funds for charitable concerns from the sale of tickets to their shows. Sailability was lucky enough to be selected as their charity for 2011.

The Players put on some terrific shows, well supported and enjoyed by Sailability members. The pantomime was a great success and thoroughly enjoyable!


On February 29th Sailability was presented with a whopping cheque for £2000.00. We were overwhelmed by this amount!

A few of us from Sailability (Roy, John, Frank, Mary and Anne) went to the cheque presentation.

Roy spoke on behalf of Sailability members and thanked everyone for their efforts and their generosity in supporting Sailability. We have invited the Players to visit Sailability and we in turn will entertain them to a sail!!!


Eddie Helming Niobe, 2001

Eddie Pickering, founder member, passes away.

It with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Eddie Pickering who passed away on Wednesday 1st February 2012.

Eddie was a founder member of Northampton Sailability and was its Chairman for some of the early years. He was a very active member for several years, although recently his health curtailed his sailing.

Eddie was a major contributor to the fundraising efforts of Sailability including the conversion of the clubrooms to cater for disabled access, the pontoon and the first Safety Boat. The introduction of the Martin 16 to Pitsford and the holding of the National Championships here are among his other achievements.

Eddie was a forthright character who always said what he was thinking. His "Can Do" attitude was an example to us all, and he will be sorely missed.

Roy adds: The passing of Eddie will be a great loss to our community. He was a sometimes misunderstood man as he sometimes came across as brash or rude. Deep down he cared a great deal about people - especially people with disabilities. His main drive in life was to promote the equality and rights of the disabled. He did not suffer well people who showed disrespect or ignorance towards others and this sometimes led to bad feelings towards him. This he just shrugged off and carried on regardlesss. We will all miss him.


Eddie's funeral was held on Monday 20th February. Rachel Morris and Chris Dabbs gave the following tribute:

Chris: Like a lot of us here today, I first got to know Ed through sport, which was a theme that ran through his life. Whether it was cheering on the Saints, marvelling at the antics of the Superbike riders, hustling for the ball on a basketball court or rounding the windward mark in pole position, Eddie gave it everything he had. In sport AND in life.

Ed had already spent decades in a chair when I joined this exclusive club, and he was an inspiration to me and so many people for the way he got on with it. I know Rachel credits him with teaching her how to live her life, and she’s not the only one….

Rachel: Ed was only 17 and heading for the army when he was injured, at a time when society preferred that disabled people shouldn’t be seen or heard. That was never going to happen with Ed…

Instead he fought and won countless battles with bureaucracy and small-minded peoples’ attitudes. Victories that all of us who came after him have benefited from.

To get those victories you have to be competitive, and Ed was certainly that. Let me share with you the recollections of one of his crewmates who can’t be with us today, Carol Shearer: “Several hundred yards from the shoreline, angry shouts could be heard. But as a number of fellow sailors descended onto the pontoon, Eddie and I emerged from the boat laughing away. Many were surprised that I 'put up' with the shouting aimed at me. I never thought anything of it; as ever Eddie had been in competitive mode and returned to his normal humorous character once onshore.”

Chris: Eddie’s experiences meant he wanted everyone to be treated fairly and he really believed in justice.... which was why you’d often hear him bellowing “PROTEST” in some regatta or other…..

Rachel: All he wanted was for the people he knew and loved to live life to the full and if we can all leave here today and do that, that will be his greatest victory. Be at peace my love, you’ve earned it.

Steve Nicholson Memorial Regatta

Northampton Sailing Club hosted the annual Steve Nicholson Memorial Regatta on Saturday, 28th January, 2012. The event, sponsored by Northampton’s Pinnell and Bax, attracted a magnificent fleet of 150 boats from a wide range of classes.

Steve Nicholson was employed by Pinnell and Bax. He was a talented sailor and very much respected in the sailing world. He sadly died following an asthma attack in 2002. A regatta has been held in Steve’s memory each year since his untimely death. Over £2000 was raised at this year’s event, for Asthma UK.


Northampton Sailability provided additional help to the Club in running this major event, including use of our new RIB, the first time it has seen real action!

Rob Jackson, Commodore, Northampton Sailing Club; commented ‘Steve was a popular club member who was always ready to help sailors whether they were new to the sport or experienced racers looking for that extra competitive edge. All of us at the club are pleased to host this event in Steve’s memory.’

New Safety Boat Drivers

Congratulations to Sue Emberson and Frank Morgan for enduring a very cold winter day and gaining their RYA Safety Boat certificates.

Northampton Sailablity cannot operate without a large team of enthusiastic volunteers, of which the Safety Boat drivers are an essential and much valued part.

These additions to the team will help to ensure a high level of safety cover at all times

Thanks to Grant Wilson and John Norman for running this course. More courses will be available later this year

Sailability Receives the New RIB at the London International Boat Show

A contingent of members headed for the Boat Show in January
for the hand-over of the new RIB.


Here it is!


The unveiling

January 25th saw the arrival our new rib. This is the culmination of many months of hard work by Chris Dabbs, Frank Morgan and others.

Funding was provided by generous donations from BarclayCard staff and the company itself.

The RIB was made by Rib-Eye and is powered by a Yamaha 40HP engine. Both companies were very helpful in meeting our requirements for specification and price!

Many thanks to all involved.


Giving it a bit of wellie!


Playtime Over!