Messing about on the water at Sutton in Ashfield Sailing Club

If you have ever considered sailing as a hobby but worried about taking the plunge, Sutton in Ashfield Sailing Club is offering a chance to dip your toes in the water.

By Kevin Rogers [email protected] @SYTKevinRogers
Sunday, 18th May 2014, 9:30 am

Chad reporter Kevin Rogers spent an hour learning the basic ropes aboard a dinghy as he sampled one of the new hour-long taster sessions on offer at King’s Mill Reservoir.

Instructor Pete Hounsley, my mentor for the afternoon said: “We are going to take you on a Leader today which will be nice and stable for you - plenty of room.”

Typically I had forgotten to bring a change of clothes as instructed, so I was dressed in an ungainly mix of office garb and buoyancy aid as I gingerly stepped from the jetty into the dinghy.

In a double-hander, as crew it’s your job to balance the boat. That bit’s easy - you just sit in the middle.

Learning how to use the tiller to steer and the main and jib sheets (ropes) to catch the wind is trickier and needs practice and concentration.

You grab the tiller to steer the direction with one hand and pull the gib sheets to move the sails with the other.

The sail swings across the boat and you duck to allow the boom to cross over, then the wind takes up the slack and you are propelled forward.

Once you get used to it, a novice can soon get into their stride and suddenly sailing becomes great fun.

Pete (53), from Sutton, said: “This is just the perfect place to come and de-stress. Once I am on the water I just stop thinking about work and enjoy myself.”

I could see how it is easy to get hooked on the sport - the odd crack at the back of the head from a boom wasn’t enough to dampen my enthusiasm as we sailed by swans and ducks in the balmy sunshine.

Kings Mill Reservoir is an excellent small sailing water with nine marks allowing for a variety of courses for all conditions.

Dale Clarke, Commodore at Sutton and Ashfield Sailing Club, said: “We try and promote sailing in the community - it’s a small friendly club. Sailing is sometimes seen a bit of a posh sport but I can assure you it’s not. We are always looking for new members and anyone who wants to try sailing can come down.”

The club has started new taster sessions where instead of signing up for a course, people can ring up and arrange to come down for an hour’s session with an instructor.

Said Dale: “It’s to see if they like it so they don’t have to pay for a full course and hopefully they will get a taste for sailing. It is a very good fresh air outdoor sport.”

“We have a variety of boats here. A lot of people race single-handers, we have double-handers where you have a helm and a crew. Our training boats are bigger and more stable. They aren’t as competitive as the racing boats but ideal for training, to get people out on the water and build their confidence up.”

“It is open to all age groups, we have had 8-9 year olds come through the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) scheme. We have teenagers here - my daughter sails a lot, she has friends who sail here. We go right through to pensioners who are sailing with us.”

The club holds racing on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, Wednesday and Friday evenings through the summer. It is a RYA training establishment and runs three courses a year - one early in the year, a summer course which is just starting and another in September.

To join the club or arrange a taster session, visit or telephone 07526 109997.

Captions: nmac-sailing club.JPG - All aboard: Chad reporter Kevin Rogers and instructor Pete Hounsley.

nmac-sailing 12.JPG - Sutton in Ashfield Commodore Dale Clarke readies the dinghy.

nmac-sailing club 11.JPG - King’s Mill Reservoir.

nmac-sailing club 4.JPG - Learning the ropes.