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South Windermere Sailing Club moves to a new location

by Mark Fearnley 29 Dec 2021 18:50 GMT
The new South Windermere Sailing Club clubhouse © Mark Fearnley

It's very rare for a sailing club to move location, but pretty much unknown for one to move a mile and a half to a new location - and even stay on the same lake.

But after 60 years of operating from Fell Foot that is exactly what South Windermere Sailing Club are doing. For 2022 SWSC will start operating from its new fantastic location at the YMCA North Camp, at Lakeside on the west side of Lake Windermere.

SWSC Commodore Angela O'Donnell says, "We are incredibly excited about our move. The lake is much wider at the YMCA and the surrounding hills are lower than at Fell Foot so will not have the same disturbing effect on the wind. This will result in a much better sailing area. Our new base will give us better racing courses, cleaner winds and with beach launching for dinghies and a new jetty for keelboats, the access will be much better. You can stand on the beach and watch the racing. And we now have our own clubhouse overlooking the lake."

Whilst SWSC has been very successful at Fell Foot, with the club fostering the skills of a number of national and world champions, and even an Olympian, the venue has always had significant drawbacks. And not just the fluky winds. The race area was at least a 15 minute sail (30 minutes in light winds!) away from the launching. It was not possible to watch the racing from the club, or even watch the juniors learning to sail. And the launching has always been difficult due to the jetties being too close together, overhanging trees, and a raft of moorings to navigate. With the opening of the Fell Foot Active Base in 2018, parking and launching became even more challenging as the site has proven very popular with rowers, power boats, paddle boards, canoes, swimmers, and others, with all facilities shared.

Meanwhile a mile and a half down the lake on the other shore, the YMCA had completed its superb new South Campus, and were considering plans for the older YMCA north campus. As several SWSC members had connections with YMCA, informal discussions began about the possibility of SWSC moving in. And this December the deal has been signed with the YMCA, who are as enthusiastic as SWSC are about the possibilities of the new partnership. The YMCA will be running RYA sailing courses, and the link with SWSC will give new sailors the opportunity to further develop their skills by joining SWSC and linking into SWSC and RYA development pathways. And SWSC has somewhere to direct inquiries and new potential members who want to know where to learn to sail on Windermere.

The link with the YMCA will also allow SWSC to promote its open meetings, as the YMCA has camping, dorms and lodges on-site for people to stay over.

As can be seen from the photos, SWSC members are going to have a busy winter preparing for the new season. One of the old YMCA instructors' accommodation blocks will become the new club house and changing rooms. A former football pitch will be converted into a dinghy park. Plans include a new ramp from boat park to the lakefront, along with a new floating jetty and ramp for launching keelboats. It will take a huge effort from club members, but the work is planned and confidence is high that SWSC will be ready for the start of the 2022 season.

If you are interested in joining SWSC in its beautiful location on the south western shore of Lake Windermere then go to www.swsailing.co.uk

See also the link to YMCA Lakeside - About YMCA Lakeside - YMCA National Centre, Lakeside.

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