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Solway Yacht Club Cadet Week celebrates 60 years with another bumper year!

by Ian Purkis 22 Jul 2018 17:23 BST 14-19 July 2018

With over sixty young sailors from complete beginners to experienced racing crews, Solway Yacht Club's annual Cadet Week launched on Saturday 14th July. After months of planning led by the Club's new Cadet Officer, Mrs Joanne Harris, this year unusually - to make the best of the predicted tides - ran as a Saturday to Thursday event, rather than the previous format of a Monday start day.

Although there wasn't the unbroken hot sun of previous weeks, good weather was forecast and duly arrived. Day 1 saw the racing fleet, the "black caps", out in the bay immersing immediately into competitive action in the 5-day series of 8 races. The two development groups, the "blue" (race coached) and "white caps" (intermediate), were busy finding their sea-legs and getting back into skills learned previously, while the beginners, the "red caps", started with the basics ashore before venturing onto the water, instructed as always by the Solway Yacht Club's great team of volunteer instructors, led by Senior Instructor Mr Lindsay Tosh.

Unlucky on Day 1, Junior Cadet Captain, Steven Gaston, had the mast step fail on his Laser in a strong gust with his entire rig going overboard and being forced an early retirement before a loaned boat swap had him back in action. Early race winners were Finn Mitchell and Huw Williams in a Dart catamaran (Fast Handicap 1 class), Rhys Williams in his Laser, Emily Biggar in her Topper and Kenneth Fraser and Monty Low in their Mirror in Handicap 2 class. In the fast Handicap 1 class Finlay Train and Hannah Davison in a Tasar were going well as were Pip Howie and Louisa Birdsall in their RS Feva in Handicap 2.

By Day 3 one of the youngest crews among the racers, Emily and Jacob Colbeck had a start line collision in their Mirror, resulting in a gash in the boat's bow which was quickly fixed by Dad, Tim, and a team of helpers to get them back in the fray.

By the end of Day 4 Rhys Williams and Emily Biggar had secured enough wins to guarantee them overall wins in their respective classes but in the fast Handicap 1 Class, the Train/Davison Tasar and the Mitchell/Williams Dart had everything to sail for going into the final day. Day 5, the final race day, and after some pre-race banter, it was the Train/Davison Tasar that came out on top with the Mitchell/Williams Dart runner up.

While all this had been going on the trainees were getting better and better. Challenged by stronger than ideal winds, the trainees were learning a lot about capsizing and wet recovery before more practice gave some the ability to perfect dry capsizing, avoiding the ducking which may have otherwise happened.

Day 4 for the trainees produced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when Skipper Roy Kerr brought the square-rigged Tall Ship "La Malouine" into the estuary and up to the Club pontoon. The trainees and a few "stowaways" led by Senior Instructor Lindsay Tosh, were welcomed aboard for a short taster sail out into the Solway.

Off the water, the Solway Yacht Club's Cadet Week games and socials were also in full swing. There was the annual quiz on night one, hosted by the Cadet Captains, and the highly-anticipated "Mudlarks" on day 2, with Cadets wading onto the mudbanks for games of capture the flag and tug of war.

The evening of day 3 featured the traditional Cadet Dinner and Dance. As usual parents were strictly not allowed and had the Club's top knobs cooking and serving a full three course dinner to the Cadets, most dressed in their finest frocks and suits. Later the same evening, the dance floor was cleared and the Cadet Week ceilidh got underway with traditional and not-quite-so-traditional dances, all led by DJ and caller, Ross Kennedy who led an array of SYC 'prize' dances – this was where the true competition prevailed!

During the finale to the week, the prize-giving and certificate awards, the Club was delighted to welcome back Flora Stewart, a past Cadet Week competitor but now a member of the British Sailing Team preparing for the World Championships in the Olympic 470 class with the ultimate goal of the 2020 Olympics in Japan. After introductions from the Commodore, she gave a brief overview of her sailing and current focus before reminding the cadets that everything they do in Cadet Week is thanks to their parents support and the instructors hard work.

After the formality of the main prizes and certificates, the Cadet Captains, Huw Williams and Pip Howie, gave out the fun awards, the biggest cheer going to Rhys Williams presented with a bottle of men's grey hair dye, him being oldest cadet present! Another great Solway Yacht Club Cadet Week!

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