It is true to say that many clubs open their doors to GBR Blind Sailing to help them provide training to all levels of visually impaired sailors. For the winter months of 2019 we have been at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club. The sailing club along with Hollingowrth Lake Activity Centre have provide a safe place to sail in winter, providing a facility to enable short seasons on the water so all stayed warm.
2018 was a great year with GBR winning Gold and Silver at the Blind Match Racing World Championships, we ended 2018 with a skill that is not used in Blind Sailing but a weekend learning to fly spinnakers and then joining in with Club racing on a Sunday, which was a great success. 2019 most of our sailors are now bidding for selection for the 2019 Blind Fleet racing World Championships this includes sighted and VI’s. Being back on the lake at Hollingworth allowed the team to provide two weekends of 1-2-1 coaching and also have a beginners group by February we had 14 visually impaired sailors out on the water and 9 boats.
It is thanks to our volunteers that these seasons were a great success the aim was to give all sailors a chance to learn and ask questions at their own pace. Jumping into a dinghy for some can be a bit scary at first the feel that a dinghy gives can confuse a visually impaired sailor at first, but after a while they are looking at how they move their body weight and feeling the acceleration as they pump the boat flat. This skill can then be taken along with the other skills learnt into the keel boat racing.
Once again over the two weekends and not forgetting November the club provided a place all could meet and chat and also allowed us to lay on dinners and lunches to keep our costs down.
At February training it was also a great pleasure to have the Mayor of Rochdale Mohammed Zaman visit and learn about Blind Sailing. Sharing our story wider helps us reach out and to hear that the Mayor’s grandson has a visual impairment the team were quick to offer support and a chance to try sailing. The Mayor was truly fascinated by what the team had achieved and by how all sailors once in the boat you cannot tell that their vision is impaired.
February training bought wall to wall sunshine and on Sunday morning it was great to put into practice what all had learnt and thanks to Adam McGovern we race 4 races with all 9 boats taking part including our newest sailor who took to the water for the first time on the Saturday.
We have so many people to thank Hollingowrth Lake Sailing Club, Hollingowrth Lake Activity Club, B&B of Smithy Bridge, Mr and Mrs Hall, our shore support, safety and volunteers.