Sailors from Burwain Sailing Club were thrilled to find out this weekend they had been selected as the winners of Sunsail’s Funding the Future competition.
This is the second year of global sailing holiday provider Sunsail’s campaign to support grassroots sailing in the UK, and as well as the £5,000 top prize, the winning club will have a live Q&A with double Olympic medallist, Volvo Ocean Race winner, and RYA Director of Racing, Ian Walker MBE.
Hollowell Sailing Club and South Staffordshire Sailing Club were picked as this year’s runners up, and each club will receive £2,000 from Sunsail. Bristol University Sailing Club were chosen for the university sailing club award of £1,000.
Set on the edge of the former mill towns of Cole and Burnley, the members of Burwain Sailing Club sail on a 90-acre reservoir which feeds the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The £5,000 Funding the Future award will be used to buy a small fleet of pre-used optimists to help encourage children from the age of six to learn to sail. This new fleet will help support the committee’s aim to encourage families from the diverse community to try the sport.
This year’s panel of judges included Ian Walker MBE, Mark Jardine, Editor of Yachts & Yachting Online, Josie Tucci, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sunsail, and Sunsail’s Event’s Director, Simon Boulding.
Commenting on behalf of the judges, Simon Boulding says, “With 75 fantastic entries this year, it was a really tough decision for the judging panel. We all felt that Burwain Sailing Club’s idea to buy a small fleet of second hand Optimists was a great initiative – encouraging children from all backgrounds to start sailing. We are looking forward to following their journey over the next year. It was fantastic to be able to extend our award for 2018, and offer runners-up awards – to Hollowell Sailing Club and South Staffordshire Sailing Club – as well as our first award to a university sailing award to Bristol University Sailing Club.”
Through its Sailfish Club, over the last eight years, more than 200 hundred youngsters have been introduced to sailing at Burwain Sailing Club. Many of these have gone on to become instructors, and one sailor is now part of the Olympic 49er squad.
Peter Dewhurst, from Burwain Sailing Club comments, “We are so grateful to Sunsail for setting up this funding opportunity. I’m sure that most clubs, like ourselves, rely on club volunteers to run their training and introduce new sailors to our sport. Funding like this helps provide the equipment that clubs need – in our case some junior boats. More juniors means more families, who are the bedrock of sailing clubs, and we will be wasting no time in acquiring some additional craft to help with our 2018 junior school sailing program. So my message to other clubs is don’t miss out on next year’s competition. It’s quick to enter – just be honest, be unique and have a viable and achievable goal.”
Runners-up Hollowell Sailing Club in Northamptonshire will use their £2,000 award to build on the improvements that have been made to the clubhouse for disabled sailors and the wider Hollowell family and visitors.
Hollowell Sailing Club, founded in 1966, sits within 140 acres of Northamptonshire countryside and is renowned for its welcome to new members and visitors. The club ethos eliminates issues with access to the sport, and they offer all necessary equipment to borrow, from single and double-handed dinghies to clothing to protect against the elements on trips around the reservoir.
Runners-up South Staffordshire Sailing Club, will use their £2,000 award to convert part of the loft space in the clubhouse, to create a dedicated training room, with a wider range of training aids including an interactive whiteboard and projection facilities – using technology to help inspire the next generation of sailors.
South Staffordshire Sailing Club is a very active family-oriented sailing club situated on the edge of the West Midlands conurbation. The club offers fantastic sailing opportunities for the large population of potential sailors who live a long way from the coast. With 350 members and a successful racing fleet, they run active training programmes for both adult and junior sailors – including a very successful Youth RIB training programme which has resulted in success in the RYA Honda Youth RIB Challenge on several occasions.
The University of Bristol Sailing Club will use their £1,000 award to buy a triple stacking trailer, so that more of their firefly fleet can compete at events, giving more members the opportunity to experience racing at a very high standard around the country.