Our friendly club will welcome and encourage you into dinghy racing. We have competitive dinghy racing on Saturday mornings and mid-week non-competitive training sessions. Competitive sailing offers an enjoyable, exciting challenge, no matter what the size of the water or wind conditions. It is a great way to improve. We welcome all sorts of sailors (juniors, adults and families; beginners or experienced), with all types of sailing dinghies, to come and race with us on Saturday mornings at Stanborough Park in Welwyn Garden City. The park is owned by Welwyn Hatfield Council and managed by Finesse Leisure Partnership in partnership with Welwyn Hatfield Council. If you have a sailing dinghy: great! As long as it’s under 16 foot you’re welcome to bring and launch it. Please note that catamarans are not allowed. If you don't have a boat, or prefer not to bring yours, a small number of dinghies are available for hire from Finesse at a special rate, and can be used for racing. You need to know how to sail in order to come racing. Should you need to learn, or have a refresher, the adjacent RYA recognised sailing school run by Finesse (Stanborough Park Watersports) teaches the basic skills of dinghy sailing leading to RYA qualifications. Then we would encourage you to join WGCSC to gain racing experience. You can come along as a non-member and race with us for a few times, but it is currently only £15 per year to join.
We race on most Saturday mornings throughout the entire year. There are usually 2 races. The first race starts at 10.00, and the second finishes at around 13.00. If you want to join the racing we suggest you arrive around 09.00 to allow time to get rigged and sign on before the briefing at 9.45. (For those who just want to watch the racing or chat, there is a coffee break at 11.00 which is a good time to catch everyone). If you are new to racing, it may be worth coming down one Saturday just to watch and see what goes on, and then for your first few races, we recommend that you start behind everyone else, and follow the fleet round. You will soon improve and probably start catching up with the slower regulars.
Prizes are awarded over a series of about 12 races - for each of the two handicap fleets (fast & slow), a combined handicap fleet ("Burgee" races), a Personal Handicap competition and a Pursuit series. We organise four regattas each year for members - Easter Egg Cup (Easter Saturday), Summer Regatta (early June), Commodore's Cup (end of October) and Christmas Pudding Race. We also hold an Open pursuit meeting - the Punch Bowl Trophy - in September. Non-members are not eligible for prizes except at the Open pursuit meeting.
As some dinghies are faster than others, we use a handicap system, which is generally based on the RYA's Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme. This assigns a number known as the Portsmouth Number to each type of boat. These numbers provide the relative performance for various boats in average conditions with average helms which is used in results calculations.
In Handicap races we have a line start and split the results into two fleets – the “fast” fleet which includes Enterprises, Leaders, Lasers, Supernovas, Phantoms, and the “slow” fleet which includes Comets, British Moths, Solos, Streakers, Fevas, Gulls, Topaz’s, and Toppers. We say quote “fast” and “slow” here because the division is somewhat arbitrary and is based entirely on RYA Portsmouth Numbers. In the right light wind conditions, the so-called “slow” fleet can finish right up there or ahead of the fast boats (on the water, never mind on handicap).
The reason for the name “Burgee” race is lost in the mists of time, but simply put these races are handicap races where we all race as one big fleet (ie. no fast and slow differentiation). Where slower boats complete fewer laps than faster boats a bit of maths from the Officer of the Day factors up to the correct number of laps.
Personal Handicap races
The Personal Handicap series is run alongside the Burgee and handicap series using the same on the water results, BUT in addition to the standard boat handicap (the RYA's Portsmouth Number) a Personal Handicap (PH) is added for the helmsman (PC: helmsperson). In this way the personal handicap competition aims to give everyone a chance of winning by factoring in their ability. As well as the end of season trophy for this competition a small prize is given out at each event.
These are run as a single fleet but unlike handicap races the fleet does not all start at the same time. Instead boats are released in reverse handicap order ie. “slow”est boats (see Handicap racing above for comments on fast and slow) first and so on. This gives the faster boats a real challenge to chase down the slow ones.
The Punch Bowl Trophy
Our most famous pursuit race is the three-hour Punch Bowl Trophy. This takes place once every year in September. As usual WGCSC has its own inimitable format where each boat has to have two crews and must come in every one or two laps (depending on weather conditions) for a complete crew change. Some teams attempt clever change-overs, and this often leads to enormous hilarity among the spectators. A special prize is given for the most spectacular changeover.
Mid Week Sessions
We have a "Sail Better" session on a Thursday evening and Leisure Sailing sessions on Tuesday and Friday mornings.
Thursday Evenings 'Sail Better' Club Sessions.
These are aimed at people who have some basic skill level, eg RYA level 2, and aim to help them improve and to get them racing. For insurance and other reasons, they will have to join the club, and boats can be hired from Finesse at £5.00 per session. This still works out as very inexpensive, so if you have any contacts who can sail, let them know. It's for all ages 8 years upwards.
Weekday Club leisure sailing.
These sessions are for Club Members and will be primarily for leisure sailing. Finesse boats can be hired at £5.00 per session. Participants with suitable qualifications will have to take their turn on the rota for the Finesse safety boat. These persons will not be asked to do Saturday rescue duties, unless they come racing. All members can use these sessions, but you may have to pitch in with the duties.
Dinghies frequently sailing at WGCSC
and class associations
BRITISH MOTH: http://www.britishmoth.co.uk/
RS FEVA: http://www.rsfeva.org.uk/
NEW TO SAILING?
You are interested in sailing. Great. It’s a satisfying and challenging activity, whether you are just pottering, cruising or racing.
The Club cannot offer teaching, but Finesse Leisure Partnership run RYA approved sailing courses at Stanborough lakes.
This is the ideal way to learn, as you will follow a structured and progressive learning curve to give you the basics up to various levels of competence.
You will then want to practice your new skills, learn to sail better and faster, and continue sailing to gain experience, perhaps with the supervised practice sessions run by Finesse or the Club at the lake.
Maybe eventually you might try racing with us on Saturday Mornings.
Have a look at the link to ‘newly qualified’ for information and inspiration.