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Stokes Bay Sailing Club launches into sailing

by Karen Falcon 4 Jun 11:21 BST
Moth and HMS Queen Elizabeth II off Stokes Bay © John Donnelly

Club members of Stokes Bay Sailing Club welcomed the news that they could return to the water and get back to the sport that they love. Jim McMillan was first to launch on Wednesday 13th May at 10.00 with HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH II as his backdrop.

Over the last two and a half weeks that club has seen many members going sailing alone or with members of their household. In addition, members have been enjoying kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing from the beach so there has been a lovely, family friendly, and socially distanced, atmosphere.

During lockdown, the club embraced virtual sailing with Chloe Barr and Ben Elvin running races to match the normal sailing programme. This culminated with Mike O'Donovan coming second in the RYA eSailing Spring Club National Championships, live on Yachts and Yachting Online on Saturday 30th May. Well done Mike!

In addition to the virtual sailing, we planned and delivered an extensive online programme for the members following the success of a photo competition on Monday 30th March which simply asked members to share a photo of Stoke Bay. After receiving almost 70 posts we knew that our members were willing to engage and we wanted to seize the opportunity to keep the community together whilst being away from the club. By week two we shared two or three interviews a week and ran a weekly quiz, and by week four we had a Saturday morning cadet focus with riddles and a video produced for the RYA Sail Smarts - Kids lockdown activities series found at

We carried out interviews with a range of club members including Dee Caffari MBE, Nick Harrison, Grace Clark, Bruce Keen, the Jason Belben Family, Matt Howard, Penny Clark, Derek Clark, Chris Draper, Bruce Keen, Dan Vincent, James Gray, Jake Bowhay, Hugh Myers, Tony Belben, Dave Roberts, Charlie South, Ollie Payne and Rosie Hill. We also contacted sailors linked to the club including Elliot Hanson, Laura Marimon, Ben Cornish, Sophie Weguelin and Stephen Park OBE. Each interview took a different approach and explored a variety of themes due to the nature of each sailor's background and experience and it was interested to listen to many tales and pick up a sailing tip or two along the way!

The online programme was well received and many members contributed, produced, led, shared, took part, commented and viewed the content. One of the best photo competitions asked members to share a photo of them sailing when they were younger. I've been told that a few evenings were spent rummaging through old photo albums and taking trips down memory lane before picking a photo or two to share with the members. An outcome of the photo competition is local artist, Sophie Scott, has almost finished creating a print of the bay based on shared photos, and her knowledge of the area, for members and locals to buy.

The great thing about the online sharing from the last two months is that the club has built a resource that is accessible by all members at any time. One of the highlights of lockdown was an exclusive Jazz performance by Stokes Bay member Tony Woods and his partner Nette Robinson. It was streamed live through our members' Facebook group and served as a fantastic accompaniment to a gorgeous warm evening which can be viewed again and again.

The members have enjoyed being back at the club and we have been welcoming new members too. We plan to open the club for food in the near future and racing when it is safe for everyone. In the meantime, we are making the most of the bay, the sunshine, the wind and the people that make the club such a happy place to be. More information about the club can be found at

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