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Windermere Sun and Fun

Our August training was a mix of sailing and water sports, and lots of laughs.

August training is about getting together, and for our volunteers, it's a chance to bring their families and be part of the weekend, as we hope they are our future. For many, the scars of COVID are still there so healing and building confidence are key and a focus of our charity.

We also launched our Get active on the high side project this weekend; encouraging activity on and off the water and away from sailing. And with little wind on Saturday and Sunday, it was a great chance to try new sports in a safe environment, so paddle boarding, kayaks and cannons were the chosen activities as well as lots of swimming.

You may be thinking, what does paddle boarding give to sailing? Well, something all our visually impaired sailors suffer with is balance and on a paddle board it's key or it's safe to say you're going to get wet! It's also a great way to build core strength and confidence.

Some of the group joined on Thursday, ahead of the weekend as Lucy was keen to get a bit of practice in ahead of the Blind Match Racing Europeans in a couple of weeks. The group woke in their wood pods provided by Ghyll Head Outdoor and Education Centre, and it was set to be a hot day with a light breeze. With lunches made they headed down to the Royal Windermere Yacht Club, which supports the training day by providing two dinghies and a great venue to launch from.

Colin and Lucy making lunch

A view of 5 wood pods early morning sun rising.

Heading south to some breeze the two teams worked on different tacks trying to beat each other to close hauled and with speed. This requires good communication and teamwork, moving together and sail trim. Something in match racing that's key is the ability to slow down, stop and get back up to speed. The wind then died late afternoon, so it was off into Windermere to have ice cream, and it was hard to choose from the 35 flavours.

Team sailing.

The team were all staying at the big house on top of the hill at Ghyll Head Outdoor and Education Centre - what a location even! those that aren't able to see the views could feel the open space. The house was great with loads of outside space and room to move and gather inside, as well as cooking facilities.

The big white house home for the weekend

Everyone else arrived and then it was off to Royal Windermere Yacht Club for dinner. Thank you to Zoe and Richard for making Friday happen so smoothly, the food was great!

Group shot outiside Windermere
After dinner group photo on the balcony of Royal Windermere Yacht Club

It was then time for the weekend to really start…

On Saturday the wind was due to kick in later in the afternoon, the sun had already got up to 26-28 degrees and defiantly had its hat on. We opened the garage at Ghyll Head, our own private piece of Windermere and told people to take their pick. The kids jumped on paddle boards and others paired up and took kayaks. We set off for the beach and who would have thought how much communication would be needed in a kayak!!!

We won’t mention any names but it still makes everyone chuckle. As we set off, one of our pairs took off at high speed in their kayak, and lefts and rights hadn't yet been ironed out and safe to say as they launched themselves on top of a paddle board chuckles were heard, a small chat took place and they took off again.

All landed at the beach and it was time to show those that hadn't come across a paddle board to have a look around and take the steps to stand and balance. It was great to see Chris and Paul take on this challenge. The Cormack children then encouraged everyone to take part in a gymnastic competition on top of the paddle board, with Chris winning the event and Colin and Fran dismounting in style.

Sarah and chris on top of kayak

Jo and Paul arriving at the beach in Kyak

The afternoon brought a bit of breeze so after lunch sails were hoisted and we all took to the water. We chased the breeze and got a bit of sailing, but it didn't last long although long enough for all to get a bit of sailing in, including our shore help, that you often see making the sandwiches, jumping in and going for a sail.

Part of the group in the drascom lugger sailing in the sun.

Back to shore and a quick trip to the ice cream shop some for the second time for some, and a first for others, to pick from one of the 35 flavours. Then back to the lake where Jackie and Gary lit the barbecue. It was also great to be joined by the Hall family and see two more children enjoying the house and grounds, and a game of hide and seek.

The sun set and with full bellies, we were able to chat and relax, and these conversations can bring out help and support in different areas of life. It was also a great chance to say Happy Birthday to Jonny Cormack.

Sunday morning, and after breakfast in the large house and coffee on the lawn it was down to the boat house.

It was strange, everyone wanted to try new kit and go for a swim and as the wind wasn't due for a while we all chose our sport. It was great to see all our little ones turning into sighted volunteers helping Lucy and Chris across to the beach. We're certainly building for the future.

Lucy with Juliet and Jessica and Alice all on paddle boards

Another great late lunch on the lawn and then it was time to pack up and head home.

We're truly thankful for the support we have gained with Adam Reed – ARB Tree and Garden Solutions coming on board as a Blind Sailing partner, helping both fund activities and also promote the work we do.

We're also very pleased to announce the support from our volunteers from the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who are helping the charity enable activities and support with the price rises and day-to-day costs. We can't say thank you enough to these two supporters and will be sharing more of the stories they're supporting soon.


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