Category Archives: Youth

Toppers, Stick Daring and a fire engine at Weir Wood

It wouldn’t be fair to blame Stick Daring for the fire engine but he was there when the fire engine arrived…..

This weekend Weir Wood was delighted to host the Topper London and South East Squad for winter coaching. After a week of storms it was almost with relief that we saw cold and sunny weather which set off the lake to perfection. OK a little more wind might have been nice but, given the huge static high pressure system prevailing, we were pleased to have any at all. With Paul Wren, the regional RYA High Performance Manager, in attendance, 21 young sailors from across the region were split into groups by their 3 coaches. Initial sessions of physical exercise and theory were followed by the programme afloat as the cold air lifted from the Medway Valley and allowed a gentle wind to establish.

The youngsters packed up for the day while parents enjoyed a spectacular sunset over the lake and the clubhouse was prepared for an evening with Stick Daring. Over 60 members attended a sit down meal provided by Wyche’s Kitchen followed by Stick recounting his epic journey the wrong way round the UK in a Laser. Stick (known to most of us as Neil Peters) is a former member of Weir Wood and is still a regular visitor and friend to many through the club’s strong Laser fleet. Neil (before he became celebrated as Stick) was also well known for the various scrapes he has got into over the years so we were all truly impressed by his achievements in successfully completing such a challenging trip. Judging by the number of cars still in the car park in the morning, which included Stick’s van, a good night was had by all!

Sunday dawned bright and sunny again but with only a very light and patchy wind. Sailors and Topper parents stayed in the clubhouse to enjoy breakfast from the galley while club racing went ahead. The one slight gust of wind was enough to blow smoke from the galley onto the smoke detector triggering the fire alarm. The alarm was quickly reset and we didn’t think anything more about it but a few minutes later the OOD received a radio call from the Committee Boat asking why there were blue flashing lights in the car park as Forest Row’s finest arrived. At least this gave some of the youngsters a chance to sit in the fire engine while the club’s officers apologised to the volunteer fire crew for getting them up on a Sunday morning.

Due to the light winds session for the Toppers were rearranged to concentrate the theory sessions in the morning. After an early lunch a decent northerly wind filled in allowing the fleet afloat for a few of hours of trigger pools and starting exercises concluded with several short races. Finally, cold fingers were then revived by hot chocolate and cakes while parent packed the boats for the journey home.

Youth Junior Race Coaching

Over the weekend of 23 and 24th November, at a time when most clubs have had their laying up suppers, Weir Wood SC in Sussex was buzzing with young sailors and their parents as the club hosted weekend of Junior and Youth race coaching events. Like event organisers everywhere, we watched the weather forecast with trepidation in the week before, as it was, the strong winds forecast for Saturday did not materialise leaving instead a grey , drizzly day with light but sailable winds. 6 Oppies from the Zone squad with their coaches made good use of the available day light to hone their on the water skills supplemented by shore theory and video debriefs and refreshments supplied by the club’s brilliant new caterers. Alongside them a small group of Oppies from the home club fleet were out on the water.

At the same time, The club’s home grown Olympic Laser coach, Jon Emmet, assisted by Jack Rockett ran a coaching session for a mixed group of 15 Laser 4.7s and Radials. Laser specific rigging techniques were demonstrated and practised on the slipway before launching to a programme of boat handling exercises leading up to short races with gut buster marks requiring the fleet to complete a complete turn around a mark challenging both boat handling and tactical planning. The video debrief at the end of the day allowed Jack’s technical wizardry with video and voice editing to complement Jon’s coaching expertise

Saturday ended with an informal evening lecture from Jon which gave a fascinating insight into the challenges of coaching prospective and successful Olympic sailors from widely differing cultures.

Again contrary to the forecast, Sunday dawned with sunshine and a slightly better wind. The Oppies carried on where they left off on Saturday but the Lasers were replaced by a fleet of demonstration boats representing the RYA Youth pathway classes each with an expert coach. 20 youngsters from across the South East arrived eager to try their dream classes, their realistic next options and generally have a great time. Not surprisingly the 29ers were the object of most peoples’ desires but they then had the chance to compare them with the joys of symmetrical spinnakers in 420s under Tim Rush’s expert guidance. For the single handers the clubs Lasers were available with various rigs and support from Jon. Smaller sailors were introduced to Fevas and Toppers. The chance to try windsurfing with the Technos gave another option. By the end everyone had had a chance to try every suitable class for them and in many cases those that perhaps they will not achieve for several years yet – great to see young (and very small) Oppy sailor Harry grinning from ear to ear after his first efforts at trapezing on a 29er!

Overall a fantastic day was had by all. Thanks to the Weir Wood Youth parent team from Weir Wood for putting it together, to Topper International for their demonstrators and to the 29er, 420 and Techno classes for sending boats /Boards and coaches to support Jon Emmet and the Weir Wood team of coaches.