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At an early stage of the Club, there were family members with children in their teens wanting to sail; there were some teenagers interested in sailing. Training had to be an essential part of the Club programme.
In 1990 we found Hamish Louden, a member of Lochaber Yacht Club, who worked in Kyle. He spent several evenings and other spells introducing us to training. His aim was to help some members to act as instructors. ‘Guinea pig’ trainees were David Tomlinson, Chris Matheson and Maria Carter.
These sessions set us up on the right lines to provide the ‘taste of sailing’ for Youth Club members during the summer holidays.
In 1991 Joan Maxwell, from Chanonry Sailing Club, came on the scene and gave us two very useful days training the junior members – costing us no more than her expenses.
Adult members also learned something of the training, which was put to good use during the summer holidays. Marcus Given, with much experience of coaching boys at Glenalmond, joined the team, which provided 20 training sessions for junior members.
There was some tailing off of enthusiasm towards the end of the season, but two dates arranged in September for capsize drill were blessed with perfect weather. Great fun was had by all.
1992 saw training take on a more formal pattern. A training week was held in August. Marcus Given was the chief instructor, other members assisting, and manning the rescue boat. Marcus takes up the tale.
‘I was asked to help with the training week, to assist two RYA instructors who were booked. There were problems. First one of the instructors had a heart attack, and could not come. Then the other had to bow out. I was left on my own, as a recent incomer, organising a sailing week for an age group younger than any I had dealt with before. The boats available were three sailing club Mirrors, which were all in good working order.
‘We started with beach drill - safety (lifejackets, stay with the boat, confidence in the water), wind direction (using wet fingers, smoke and the Rockvilla flag) and the names of the various parts of the boats. Then came steering and going about. We did this squatting on the beach, with a rudder and a piece of old rope. The drill was to change hands, push rudder over, move across boat. We slowly got the hang of it. Points of sailing were demonstrated with a cardboard boat and stones for buoys.
‘The first trip on the water started with a demonstration, with the group watching from an inflatable and a dinghy, as experienced youngsters (Nathan Lewis, Maria Carter and Simon MacVarish) did figure of eights across the wind. Then we all had a go, two or three to a boat. Endless figure eights, reach - tack - reach, got everyone steering and crewing, and encouraged confidence. Slowly we introduced beating and running, with shore drill to show the moves. Eventually everyone could sail a simple course, with the older youngsters helming and the younger ones, who were less confident, crewing.
‘By the end of the week we managed races round marks. An end of course regatta was won by Nathan, who was presented with a cup made from a coconut shell. Roger Coppock produced some Lochcarron Sailing Club certificates for all who took part.’
Six Toppers were hired from Highland Regional Council for the Friday and Saturday. This allowed us a preliminary consideration of this class of dinghy.
Sessions were also held during the summer holidays, but with poor weather, the season petered out near the end of August.
1993 set the pattern for the next few years. Joan Maxwell took over our instruction with two assistants also from Chanonry Sailing Club. Marcus Given assisted for the week’s course in July. Stan’s caravan and the Murray Clubroom were used as the shore facilities; sailing was based at the shore below Murray Square. Six Toppers were hired from Highland Regional Council for the occasion. Sixteen RYA certificates were awarded.
In 1994 power boat instruction was introduced with a week-end at the beginning of the season by Adrian Hope of Lochaber Yacht Club. Certificates at level 3 were awarded to three of the six who took part, and one level 2 certificate.
In July, our regular week’s training with Joan Maxwell, had 20 candidates. Three confirmed their competence at stage 1, four worked through stage 2, and six qualified at stage 3. Seven younger members enjoyed ‘a taste of sailing’.
Joan was assisted by Jo Brewer, Hugh MacGregor, and our own Marcus Given. The changing rooms at the Battery Park were now part of the facilities. During the week we had a photocall to publicise Royal Mail’s contribution to our Sports Council Grant for the purchase of the Toppers.
In 1995 training took off in a big way. Joan Maxwell gave us an evening on Race Management in March. This was followed during the season by a one-day course with the rescue boat and a day of race training for junior members.
In the training week in July, 27 members participated, under the tutelage of Joan Maxwell, Andrew Gibb and Gordon Grant, with some assistance from our own junior members. Again, Toppers were hired from Highland Regional Council.
Four juniors obtained ‘Taster’ certificates, nine passed at level 1 & 2, three at level 2, six were awarded red badges, racing, of whom one also passed at level 3. Two adults reached stage 1, and three stages1 & 2.
In 1996 Power Boat Training had a boost, with another week-end in the spring from Adrian Hope of Lochaber Yacht Club, seven members taking part. Additional experience and assessment was arranged during the July training week.
Joan Maxwell again provided a very full week of sail training in July, assisted by Andrew Gibb, and with considerable help from our more experienced junior members. About a score of candidates received certificates at the end of the week.
In May 1997, there was a repeat of a one day course of race training for junior members, and the training week in July under Joan Maxwell was again a successful event, although there are no details recorded in the archives.
In 1998 participation in the training week in July tailed off, only 17 members participating Joan Maxwell was again the chief instructor. Two members were awarded certificates at stage 1, one at stage 2 and one at stage 3. Two had books signed for participation at stage 2, and four had books signed for work on the red badge for racing. Three were awarded certificates at adult level 1. (Four others did not take part sufficiently to receive awards.)
In 1999, there was again a reduction, only thirteen trainees taking part. As in 1998 Joan Maxwell relied to a very great extent on our own junior members as assistants. They were, in fact, being instructed themselves in the art of training. Certificates awarded included – three taster, four stage 1, two stage 2, one stage 3. Two consolidated work at stage 3, and one on the red badge.