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53rd West Lancashire Yacht Club 24 Hour Race - Preview

by Alex Halliwell 19 Apr 10:10 BST 14-15 September 2019

"We have fun and that's what sailing is all about"

Want to develop some community cohesion whilst having fun sailing? Build links between groups of members? Create a genuine feeling of inclusion at your club? Then the West Lancashire Yacht Club Twenty-Four Hour Race could be seriously good for the health of your club and its members.

Now entering into its 53rd year the West Lancashire Yacht Club Twenty-Four Hour Race is still going strong and has become a Mecca for many clubs who make an annual pilgrimage on mass to this sailing event. Whilst only a handful of clubs have made it to all 52 races so far (no small achievement in itself) there are many clubs who come year on year. It seems that once you come you are hooked on what has been called the 'sailing grand national' and listed in Yachts & Yachting's bucket list of sailing events. The race has certainly enjoyed a resurgence since the nostalgic celebrations of the 50th year (82 entries) and is attracting new and old clubs back into the fold each year. So what is it about this particular blend of sailing and social which may be so beneficial to the health of your club and its members?

Well, the West Lancashire Yacht Club 24 hour race is an event which is uniquely for teams of sailors from RYA affiliated clubs. Clubs may bring a now unlimited number of teams, with larger clubs bringing up to three to four teams and smaller clubs typically bringing one to two teams. This is a great opportunity for a club weekend away together. Unlike other regattas the 24 hour race requires a team of sailors to share one boat and suit of sails and the responsibility for getting the boat round in one piece in a range of conditions. The race is a great leveller where no one sailor is bigger than the team, as the inland type sailing conditions combined with some coastal influences mean that sometimes that sometimes even the national champions are perplexed. This has a great equalising effect and everyone on the team has their part to play.

The endurance nature of the event means sailors and supporters must work together to keep the team and the boat going for the length of the race through the ten hours of darkness and beyond. It's not all hard work though - don't forget you can relax and enjoy the social side of the sailing with friends from other clubs to and the infamous Friday night entertainment. Chill out in the club bar with friends or enjoy the live band and sailors favourite 'Elephant Juice' with DJ enterprise Steve Blackburn.

Our roving reporter Jules Ashworth has been out and about to find out why this event is so addictive. She spoke to Liverpool Yacht Club Commodore Paul Pratt to find out why this event keeps members who race keelboats not dinghies coming back year after year, with the B team sometimes taking line honours for the last boat. For Paul the answer is simple "We certainly have fun and that's what sailing is all about.....All the teams support each other... bringing our elder, younger and less able and members together. It brings a real feeling of community." Whilst the Commodore of Hoylake Sailing Club told Jules that "They have a fabulous time....it pulls all the club together... we sail, we have a drink and we party. Who could want more?"

Both respondents touched on the results of a recent survey of children in sport which shows that to keep children involved in sport they must be having fun and enjoying themselves. It is surely the same for adults too. The 24 Hour Race can be taken as seriously as your team likes and some clubs choose to have a team of relative hot shots and a team who just want to get out on the water and experience the spectacle. Whatever your approach there will be a warm welcome and some competition for you at Southport.

When Jules spoke to university students about the appeal of the race their response was the same as their more mature counterparts (apologies Paul)" I've been coming here for ten years now it's the highlight of my sailing season. There's great socials, great atmosphere, great sailing."

For those of you who like to Pose (Wednesday nights - BBC2) and strut your stuff there's also the opportunity to try and snatch the prize for the most identifiable boat / team from Lancaster University/Plymouth University who take community identify to a higher level by dressing in the teams theme - be it tigers, Minions, bananas, the police, bears, fairies. Just imagine what you could take to the water in this year.....

If all this is making you think our club could have a go at this, it's not too late to get organised and enter this year's excellent team building a event on Saturday 14th/Sunday 15th September 2019 see www.wlyc.org.uk or our go to our Facebook page at Wlyc24hrRace for more information. You will need a Enterprise, Firefly, Lark or GP14 to take part. We already have 28 teams entered ready to have fun with five months to go.

Revisions to handicaps for 2019 are being published over Easter on the WLYC website

We look forward to welcoming old and new faces in September in sunny Southport with while crossing our fingers for fair winds! See you all then!

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