Latest News: Forums General Ideas for a Cruising Day Please

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    Hi I try to get all the non-racers in my club out of the boat park occasionally and have had moderate success organising trips to the Solent and Chichester Harbour, which suits members who tow, but we have a lot of people in the club who do not want to tow their boat (including some Wayfarer owners) away for a day, far less venture out on the sea.

    We have a big club weekend coming up in July, a prequel to the Olympics and I am looking for ideas for activities to get the Cruisers and other non-racers out. It has to be something that all abilities can tackle and I wondered if there is anyone out there in Wayfarer-land who has experience of such occasions or suggestions for activities that will make people/families want to come down and get involved?

    So far I have thought of orienteering; everyone gets instructions to find very small floats (500ml plastic milk bottles) on a short rope so they are hard to find except by compass bearings from a tree and a pylon (say), Super-soaker (water pistols) pirates – I haven’t worked that one out yet but the kid’s will love it, then there are more restful pursuits like picnics rafted up and camping in boats. We are not supposed to land anywhere but the 300m of shore in front of the clubhouse which is a bit limiting.

    Has anyone got any good ideas?




    A long time ago the young sailors of our club, while still learning the ropes in Optimists, got fed up with the “advice” they got from their parents ashore. To get back at them a regatta was held where the parents had to race in their children’s Optimists while the children were encouraged to shout “good advice” to their parents. The race was baptised “the old sacks” race. This best translates in to “Old fart”race. Today the “Old Sack” regatta still exists under the same name and the prizes are small sand filled sacks on a pedestal. The gold sack being the most desirable trophy to win in our club. (Makes you wander what a gold fart would look like…)

    The regatta is still managed by the young (under 30) members and to participate you have to be over 30. The regatta consist of a few unusual races, let me give you some examples.

      The Old farts do not get any information up front and are placed behind the main entrance gate and given an ice cream. Then they are told that there is a “le Mans” start when the gates open AND when the ice cream is finished. As soon as the committee was done explaining, the gate opened and anyone with an unfinished ice cream was ordered to finish it first. Obviously the boats were moored at the pontoon with the sails down.

      There is always a race where we have to sail at least one leg backwards and finish with the rudder first.

      A boards up and/or a Genoa only race.

      A row or paddle leg.

      Once we had to sail an Olympic course that was laid between two of the harbour’s jetties. The longest leg was 50 yards or there about. You can only imagine the starboard/port and luff lee issues we had.

    I am sure you can come up with other fun ways to ensure that a winner is determined pure luck. The “Old Fart” regatta is one of the highlights of the year and good for a lot of laughs. It brings out most of the club’s members, not in the least the cruisers. And what chance for the children to mess about with their parents! Obviously such a day isn’t complete without a BBQ or a mussels and chips meal, tons of ice cream, sweets for the children and what not.


    Thanks for you reply, Swiebertje I am sorry for tthe delay in responding, I have just returned from a long week cruising a big dinghy (Jeaneau 34.2) in the Ionian.

    The idea of putting adults in Oppies is magic! I will pass your advice onto the Oppie team so they can get thinking about how we can adapt your ideas to suit our club. Fantastic concept.

    Still hoping for more ideas, anyone?


    I just thought you might like to hear what we did for a successful non-racing event at the club last weekend where we were staging one of the RYA Sail for Gold events. It worked for us, maybe others would like to have a go.

    I designed an Orienteering event which required participants to visit all of 15 markers placed around the reservoir. Markers were one pint plastic milk bottles, mostly attached to sinkers (small flower-pots with rope loop and filled with sand and cement mortar). Each bottle had its number marked on with a permanent pen, and for the purposes of the Sail for Gold theme, an Olympic Sport icon too. Each boat was given a sheet of paper with a set of compass bearings to find their way to each marker in sequence, the bearing pointed to a landmark on shore adjacent to where the marker was to be found, so that in the event that a straight course was not possible, a tree or a pylon could be used to close in on it.

    On locating each mark the crew noted down the sport represented by the icon on that marker.

    Some markers were on-shore and a small plastic square on a stake hammered into the beach showed where to land and an arrow and distance writted on the square told crews which way to go looking for the marker.

    Boats were started at 15 minute intervals to avoid following boats simply going where the boat in front went.

    On the day, light winds meant that the course lasted nearly 4 hours, but it is an indication of the level of interest that 8 out of the 10 starters finished the course, and have asked to do it again. I think the combination of skills needed to complete the course made it interesting, the markers were small enough to be almost invisible until quite close-to and by putting them in awkward places, presented a challenge in boat handling. At the end the returned bearing-sheets from those who completed the course showed that everyone had followed the correct course although the Scouts down at the other end of the reservoir had pinched the landing marker near their canoeing centre, making it a little more difficult for our lot.

    Fast boats did not have a particular advantage over slower boats so I see no need for handicapping, in fact having a stable platform to make compass use easier and a dry boat to help keep the paper dry is an advantage.

    There is scope to make the course and method of completing it more complex but we seem to have found a level that everyone enjoyed and this is something I will be doing again. As I have bemoaned before, it is hard to get people who don’t want to race to get their boats out of the weeds in the boat park. Orienteering might just be part of a solution.

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