Sussex Yacht Club has come up with a novel collaboration with the local university to help fill empty crewing spaces and to train student sailors, reports William Mills
Sussex Yacht Club nestles in the lower reaches of the River Adur as it flows through Shoreham on the way to the sea. The club is one of the oldest in the county founded back in 1892 and its members are able to apply for a warrant to fly a prestigious blue ensign. The clubhouse exudes old world charm with a warm, inviting atmosphere. The club also embraces the future by encouraging members of nearby Sussex University’s sailing team to join the autumn’s weekend racing.
So on a brilliant autumn morning the crew of Tyke, an X332, were joined by Lacie Wallace, a fresher student all the way from North Carolina in the USA.
Owner Brain Thomas successfully completed this year’s Fastnet and has ensured that Tyke is the boat to be on. When taking students afloat, he wants them to play an active part rather than being a passenger.
Lacie’s role on this occasion was to trim the fractional rig’s demanding mainsheet in the strengthening and gusty north easterly.
‘I am very lucky to have the opportunity to spend a term abroad here at the University of Sussex, coming from North Carolina, USA.
‘I think the university sailing club is great because without it, I would have no opportunity to connect to local sailing clubs. Membership to the uni sailing clubs includes fun socials, dinghy lessons during the week, and spots on the yachts that race on Sundays. No previous sailing experience is required; simply put your name on the list, and members of the sailing club work hard to find you spots on club yachts.
‘My fears when coming to Uni Sussex were that I would live right next to the sea but never have the chance to step foot on a yacht or learn more about sailing, but this fear was overcome immediately when the very first week I was placed on a Beneteau 45.5 and then the next week on Tyke.
‘As for which boat to sail on, the view of an entire fleet of boats behind Tyke on a sunny, warm, beautiful day was not bad at all. Only in the last half hour did a yacht creep up next to us and overtake. Tyke finished second place, and I had the time of my life.’
Tim Cork, Sussex Yacht Club director and organiser of the link-up with the unirversity, explained that the collarboration with the university works for everyone. ‘It gets new people onto the water and provides us with an additional crew pool so we are winners all round,’ he said.
After that it was off the clubhouse for the results and the bar.