Olympic spirit was in the air last weekend (09 June) as sailors of all ages and abilities took part in RYA Sail for Gold activities to celebrate London 2012.
The celebrations, which aim to bring the 2012 sailing events as close to home as possible coincided with Medal Race Day at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta at Weymouth and Portland and provided a fantastic opportunity for clubs and centres nationwide to follow the action and create their own special events.
Clubs were able to show up to-the-minute regatta news, audio commentary, live tracking, interviews and results in their clubhouses thanks to special web banners from the RYA. Clubs also enjoyed using their Sail for Gold kits to celebrate the day which included bunting, flags, medals and inflatable torches.
One club who embraced the occasion were Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club who gave visitors a warm welcome and the opportunity to try sailing in their Sail for Gold ‘have a go’ sessions.
Visitors off all ages took to the water including nine year old Hannah who took her friend sailing in her Optimist dinghy and 72 year old Roy Bryan who had his first ever sail in a Laser Stratos.
Up in Scotland, Clyde Cruising Club also opened their doors to their local community with ‘have a go’ sessions welcoming both adults and children to try dinghy sailing for free at Bardowie Loch.
They held an on the water torch relay and those on shore enjoyed Olympic themed games, quizzes and activities.
“The event was a great success as we had loads of help from our club members and plenty of non-members joining us. It was great to see lots of new faces out on the water” said Jenni Kirk,
Instructor at Clyde Cruising Club Dinghy Section.
As well as competing in the first event of the North West Team15 Inter-Club Championship, aspiring young windsurfers at Astbury Sailsports Centre, Cheshire, enjoyed tracking the progress of their windsurfing idols Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw, following the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta between their races.
Their sixth and final race was given an Olympic twist following the same course format that will be used for the London 2012 medal races.
In Exmouth 500 people came out to witness a spectacular display when members of Exe Sailing Club staged a special relay around Exmouth Marina with a 1948 Olympic Torch. The event was part of the 1948 Sailing Relay and the Torch was passed from members of the club all the way to a waiting cruiser which carried it off in a flotilla of boats to Sidmouth, the next stop on its journey to Weymouth.
Exe SC Commodore Rex Frost expressed his wishes of good luck to the British Sailing Team- “We have been collecting written tokens of good will and inspiration to carry forward to inspire and give heart to our team” he said.
RYA Sail for Gold Coordinator Celia Edgington said: “We are absolutely delighted to see all the wonderful events that sailing clubs and centres have been organising right across the country. People have really been embracing Sail for Gold and sailors of all ages and abilities have been getting out on the water and having a fantastic time.”
“The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games provide the perfect opportunity to showcase and celebrate our sport making people nationwide feel genuinely connected to, and part of, this incredible sporting event.
“There’s still plenty of time to hold your events. Why not celebrate with us on July 21st for Sail for Gold Push the Boat Out Day”.
Launched in March, more than 600 clubs, centres and marinas nationwide have signed up for Sail for Gold, with volunteer Sail for Gold Activators driving their club’s Sail for Gold activity to embrace the build-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
If you would like to find out more information about the Sail for Gold Programme and Push the Boat Out Day visit www.rya.org.uk/sailforgold
Visit the Sail for Gold Facebook page to see all the photos from the weekend and how Sail for Gold clubs, training centres and marinas have been celebrating.
For more information go to www.sailinginfo4all.co.uk