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Ocean Safety 2023 - New Identity - LEADERBOARD

Blackwater Sailing Club Cadet Week

by Bec Hughes 14 Aug 2023 07:43 BST 30 July - 4 August 2023
Blackwater SC Cadet Week: Toppers in the rain on the trip to Maldon Promenade Park © Anna Lau

Inclement conditions don't dampen Cadet Week fun!

Nearly 150 young people aged between eight and 18 enjoyed a packed sailing, racing and social programme at Blackwater Sailing Club's annual Cadet Week.

The week, from 30 July to 4 August, gave Cadets of all abilities the opportunity to sail and race, learning from a team of voluntary instructors who cover all levels and stages.

For those new to sailing, tuition started on the Heybridge Club's training lake, while those more experienced sailors - some of whom have been enjoying great success in international competitions - took to the Blackwater Estuary for a full calendar of 65 races. There was river racing in over 50 boats from five different fleets and a team racing event.

Cadet Skipper, Rob Carver, said: "The forecast looked grim, and the cadet management team started preparing a number of contingency plans in case we were unable to sail on some of the days.

"Our racing and training began on Monday with a stiff breeze resulting in our first broken mast of the week, but nothing our capable team of instructors and safety crew couldn't handle. Tuesday brought similar wind, but our sailors were learning to cope with the conditions and there were fewer capsizes.

"The next day was 'Wild Wednesday', and the worst weather of the week with gusts of force seven and rain, which meant we had to cancel the tractor pull. We decided to keep the training groups off the river, which meant our instructors had to organise a series of land-based activities to keep everyone occupied, and we soon had cadets tying knots in the upper deck and rigging boats in the members' shed.

"Thursday was downriver day for the race fleet, followed by the traditional trip to Maldon Prom on Friday but unfortunately the weather didn't co-operate entirely, and we launched in torrential rain. This did abate, and there was enough wind to get everyone down for an ice cream and back again with plenty of time for the prize-giving.

"All in all, a fantastic week despite the challenges of the weather, running races every day, getting dozens of cadets through their RYA levels, and enjoying almost all of our planned off-the-water activities."

The Week also had a bursting programme of social events organised by the Cadet Committee - including a fancy dress competition, disco, quiz and table tennis tournament - with a huge undertaking by the voluntary galley staff to provide catering throughout.

Cadet Commodore 18-year-old Sophie Foskett, from Maldon, said: "Cadet Week 2023 was absolutely amazing! Cadets sailing from the ages of eight to 18 took part, showcasing the strength of teamwork and resilience of these young sailors, from training groups on the lake to competitive racing on the river.

"I am very proud of the Cadet Committee who helped organise events that ensured that cadets had the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities, from sailing races to teambuilding exercises, despite the challenging weather conditions. And, of course, this week would not be possible without the huge amount of adult volunteers that guaranteed the smooth running of the week."

Cadet Week raises money for charity with a raffle and silent auction making a magnificent £1,700 for the Cadet Commodore's chosen charities - the Thames Barge Sailing Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Series winners: Laser Radial and Cock of the Cadets Nick Evans; Laser 4.7 Jess Welch; General handicap Lucy Shelter and Jess Haigh; Topper/Tera Josephine Bernard; Feva Flo Evans and Katherine Carver; Optimist Callum Marshall.

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