Sunday, July 23, 2006

Maidenhead Sailing Club

If you are a dinghy sailor in the UK you are spoiled. You have so many sailing clubs to choose from. When I lived there it seemed like there was a club racing dinghies on every little patch of water in the country. I'm sure it must be the country with the highest density of sailing clubs in the world.

So when I lived in Maidenhead back in the early 80's and was looking for somewhere to race I could have chosen Maidenhead Sailing Club which is only a mile or two from the one in Taplow that I wrote about a few days ago. Like Taplow Lake SC, Maidenhead SC also sails on a small lake left over after gravel extraction. I remember going there for an evening meeting for potential new members. After a few free beers I was button-holed by some rabidly enthusiastic Solo sailor who took me outside in the dark to look at his boat and who then gave me the hard sell as to why the Solo was the best class in the world, the only boat that anyone with an ounce of intelligence would choose.

Somehow I managed to escape and for a while was thinking of buying a Solo. But then the impartial advice of another sailor whom I respected and the chance to try a Laser on vacation tipped me over into choosing a Laser. I joined Taplow because of some guy I met on the same vacation who was a member there and who invited me to join.

But Maidenhead Sailing Club was the place where I sailed my first "open meeting". Translation note for speakers of American English: when a sailing club hosts an event for members of other clubs to come and race with them, in Britspeak it is an open meeting, but in Amerispeak it's a regatta. Just like for reasons I never understood, in Britain we raced around buoys pronounced boys; but in America we race around buoys pronounced boo-eeze.

Booyah! No that's something else. Where was I?

Oh yeah. After a year of racing at Taplow, I was invited by the top Laser sailors there to go with them to the open meeting at Maidenhead. I didn't think I was ready to go and race at other clubs but they persuaded me and I am glad they did. I think I came around 6th or 7th in a fleet or about 20 boats so I was pretty pleased with myself and started traveling to more open meetings after that.

As I recall we raced some crazy figure eight course around those islands.

Judging by their website, Maidenhead SC is still thriving and has an active Laser fleet. Oh, and fleets of Solos and Albacores and a "menagerie" fleet too. But who cares about them? Regular readers of this blog know why Lasers are best and why other boats suck.

Only joking guys. The comments on this post about why so many of us become myopic about the "one true boat" were excellent. Live and let live, say I. Even Solo sailors.


Ant said...

Solo's may have the nick-name So-Slow... but what do we sail for.. if its for competition for racing and for a well thought out boat then a club with a good solo fleet is gonna be cool for you... the guys I see at Draycote in the UK sailing against my dad in the Solo are the same guys that I sailed against on light-wind wednesday evening when I was 15 -> 18 damn years ago.. and hey, some of em can still beat me...sometimes...

Tillerman said...

I'm sure I would have been perfectly happy sailing Solos at Maidenhead. But would probably have ended up switching to Lasers when we moved away.

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