Setting sail for a successful pantomime at Exe SC.

PUBLISHED: 09:02 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 12:45 10 June 2010

EXE Sailing Club is, of course, well-known for the excellence of its sailing activities, writes Mike Rice.

EXE Sailing Club is, of course, well-known for the excellence of its sailing activities, writes Mike Rice.

As reported last week, the club has been shortlisted for the UK-wide RYA Club of the Year award.

But the over the past weekend the club showed how its talents go well beyond an excellent performance on the water.

Jewel of the Exe, Exe SC's first home-grown pantomime production, was staged for one night only in a packed clubhouse on Saturday evening by an enthusiastic cast of mainly junior club members.

The panto, written and directed by club pro Jen Miller, was a tale loosely based in olde Exmouth, involving lad-about-town Shackles (Beth Ford), heroine Sapphie (Frances Jones), assorted sea creatures, a band of pirates, and a mythical jewel. Paddy Blight, the only grown-up in the cast, played Knot, the loveable villain, supported by an animated Robyn Jones as Rivet, the villain's apprentice.

After much banter with the audience in the best pantomime tradition, competitive singing of the theme song, We do like to be beside the Estuary, and a madcap chase around the auditorium, all perils were overcome, the wedding was announced between Shackles and Sapphie and all lived happily ever after.

The panto had been in preparation and rehearsal since September, providing a wonderful alternative to the junior splash nights during the off-season.

Much ingenuity went into converting the restaurant end of the clubhouse into a temporary stage and the club's renowned volunteer spirit supported the production of costumes, sets and all the other bits and pieces needed to put on the panto.

Earlier in the weekend, panto author and director Jen had fronted the club's band Giraffe, in their first real gig away from the club.

The eleven piece band entertained a full house in The Beach pub on Friday evening with a brightly delivered set of soul, funk and pop classics.

Steve Best's sax solo on Echo Beach was so good they made him play it twice, which must have impressed Ray Beavis, Steve's sax teacher and world-class player of the instrument, who just happened to be in the audience.

The 2010 sailing season will get under way at the end of next month.

An early highlight will be the opening of the club's new race box, at the dock entrance. Look out for a report on this and other club activities on the website at and, of course, in the Journal.

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