Sailing club offers taster day

Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club will be holding a water sports taster day on Saturday 28 May. It’s an opportunity for people of all ages to come down to the club, located beneath the promenade at the Marina on St Leonards sea-front, to try out a range of sporting activities on the water.

Sailing, stand-up paddle-boarding, kayaking and swimming will all be on offer. An RNLI representative will provide sea safety information and undertake a life jacket check. 

Commodore of the club, Melanie Clark, emphasises that women and girls are particularly welcome. The event is registered within a programme entitled Steering the Course overseen by World Sailing, the international governing body for the sport, to promote female participation.

The taster day will run from 10 am to 2pm (after which the tide will be too low). All activities will be weather dependent, and numbers will be limited.

The female commodore

Melanie Clark at the club, began sailing around 20 years ago. “It was a shaky start”, she says. “I only did a sailing course as I wanted my then two young boys to sail, and can’t say that I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t work out why anyone would want to sail alone or indeed capsize! Somehow I achieved RYA Level 2 with the support of my family and members of Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club, and then progressed to becoming a Dinghy Instructor and then a Senior Sailing Instructor. After taking various roles on the club committee I have now become Commodore. 

“Over the years I have also managed to obtain Yachtmaster Theory and Day Skipper Practical. Although I am still predominantly a laser dinghy sailor who races on Sundays at the club, I have also raced on yachts in France, Dartmouth, Cork and Grenada, and done the Fastnet. I have also been lucky enough to sail dinghies or yachts in a number of other countries such as Croatia, Cuba, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. 

“This year I have been invited to be part of a women’s racing team, and I am currently training every fortnight with the aim of competing at Cowes in 2022. The team are all passionate about sailing but, even more so, share the common dream of promoting female sailing and showing that women of various ages and with varying experience can work together to achieve a common goal.

“Still only 25% of sailors are women. I am hoping to encourage more women both to try the sport and to keep participating. This is a worldwide issue, hence the World Sailing campaign.”

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