Exe Sailig Club - review of 2009.

PUBLISHED: 09:22 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 12:30 10 June 2010

THE FINAL races of the Exe Sailing Club winter dinghy race series last weekend marked the end of another busy and successful year for the club, writes Mike Rice.

THE FINAL races of the Exe Sailing Club winter dinghy race series last weekend marked the end of another busy and successful year for the club, writes Mike Rice.

Series winners were club sailing secretary Guy Farrant in the Trio class and Stuart Hills in the handicap class, sailing an RS400.

Dinghy racing has been as popular as ever during the year, particularly the Wednesday evening series during the summer, which regularly attracted over 30 boats.

A highlight of the year was the club's hosting of the River Exe Regatta in late June.

The event had a strong entry of dinghies and cruisers from the four clubs around the River Exe and, for the first time, included a deep sea fishing contest.

Next year's regatta, the tenth anniversary, will be hosted by Topsham SC over the weekend 3rd and 4th July.

In July the club ran a one day regatta for the Met Office Sailing Club, who managed to organise some unseasonably blustery weather for the occasion. There was a lot of swimming, but spirits remained undampened.

August's highlight was the Comet Trio nationals, held over a long weekend. With a fleet of more than 30 boats, the Trio is the most popular dinghy at Exe SC, so home boats considerably outnumbered the visitors. First-time Trio sailor Iain Horlock, sailing with Debbie Woodcock, won the event in great style.

In September, the club organised the annual champagne challenge race to Brixham, in which more than 50 yachts enjoyed sparkling sailing conditions.

Exe SC sailors have continued to post impressive results away from the club. Olympic sailors Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes finished 4th in the 49er World Championships on Lake Garda, Italy. Nearer home, Rhodes sailed his little yacht Lisette to great effect at the Dartmouth regatta, winning his class convincingly. Ben's father, Chris, also had some excellent results at both Dartmouth and Torbay regattas.

Neil and Sam Matson competed in the Fastnet Race, which was a light airs endurance marathon right up to the last day.

Sam competed in the Laser nationals at Torbay, as did Ben Cornish, who has risen to 32nd place in the national Laser sailing rankings during the year, boosted by his excellent win in the South West Laser Grand Prix series.

Our youngsters were represented at the Cadet Nationals at Pwllheli by Emily and Kate Kinver, and the Turl brothers, James and Chris.

The Kinvers were 23rd and the Turls 54th out of a 92 boat fleet.

Tom Kinver and Charlie Makepeace sailed in the 420 World Championships on Lake Garda.

Alex Horlock competed at the 29er Worlds on Lake Garda in August, sailing with Tim Walton (15) from Draycote Water Sailing Club.

In October he teamed up with the current Cadet national champion, Arthur Henderson of Salcombe YC, to sail in the RS400 inland championships at Queen Mary SC.

Their 9th place in this highly competitive fleet is a sign of things to come.

The club's training centre is now reaping the benefits of long-term planning. During the year it has delivered 2,508 training sessions, 90% of which were attended by club members.

A highlight of the training centre's year was the appointment of a full-time club professional.

Jen Miller's organisation, commitment and enthusiasm secured members' votes at the recent AGM for the post to be transformed from the current seasonal basis to a year-round position.

The Training Centre has continued to develop the RYA Onboard and Sailability schemes.

Onboard is a project to introduce school children to sailing, while the aim of Sailability is to provide access to sailing for people with disabilities.

Exe SC's main Onboard partner is the Exmouth Community College. Students from The West of England School for Young People with Little or No Sight and Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education have taken part in Sailability sessions.

During the summer, the Volvo ECO Challenge team came to the club to treat a group of enthusiastic youngsters to an afternoon of environmental fun, with a serious message.

The ECO Challenge is a great opportunity for young sailors to get actively involved with an environmental project for their club.

In 2008, the 120 younger members of Exe SC (aged 6-12) got together to work on a wide ranging project which looked at many ways to improve the club's environment, including recycling bins, litter collection, energy saving schemes and water waste reduction.

The project was one of the winners, and landed the club a £650 grant from Volvo.

Under the aegis of Vice Commodore Rex Frost, the club has been represented on a number of bodies concerned with the Exe Estuary, from the environmentally-focussed Exe Estuary Management Partnership to the newly-formed Water Users' Group, set up on behalf of the Exmouth Chamber of Commerce.

Another important initiative we are involved with is "Finding Sanctuary", under which the government is committed to introducing Marine Conservation Zones, a whole range of interconnected and inter-related wildlife sanctuaries for marine animals, within the next 18 months.

The biggest physical change at the club this year was the construction of the clubhouse extension.

Opened in April, the extension gives the club a badly needed improvement to the ladies' changing room and showers, and upstairs, a multi-function meeting room which has already earned its keep as a base for the management committee.

The extension, completed on time and to budget, was project managed in-house and had the benefit of a lot of volunteer effort, as befits the club's ethos.

The recent club AGM confirmed Mrs Frankie Upton as Commodore for the coming year.

Mrs Upton said she was looking forward to another year at the helm of a highly successful club, and thanked the huge number of volunteers whose efforts made it all possible.

While the next sailing season proper does not kick off until the end of March, our top sailors face their first test much earlier in the year.

Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes will be competing at the 2010 49er World Championships, to be sailed in the Bahamas from 2 to 9 January. Come back here in January to see how they got on!

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