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Challenge Series

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The knowledge, skills and experience of the more established sailors at TSC is one of our greatest assets. Our challenge is to pass this amazing asset on the to new generations of sailors, so they too can make the most of the opportunity that sailing at Thornbury offers.

The Challenge Series ran for the first time in 2022. It gives all members a great opportunity to sail together outside the established racing calendar and aims to improve our sailing, but with the emphasis on participation, building friendships and having a good time.

In 2023, building on the success of the first year, the Challenge Series will be made up of 2 series, the Challenge running from April to August and the Winter Challenge running from September to December (see Events).

The aims

The aims of the Challenge Series are:

  1. To integrate new members and recently joined members with the more established sailors at TSC.
  2. To develop core sailing skills, boat set-up and knowledge of local conditions,
  3. To allow novice and intermediate sailors and racers to develop and hone their racing skills, acting as a step between recreational sailing and more serious racing.
  4. To give all members the opportunity to experience different types of dinghy, in particular introducing them to the preferred fleets.
  5. To offer new and recently joined members instruction on the role of OOD and AOD.

Who is it for?

The Challenge Series is for everyone:

- For beginners - we will be continuing with our mentoring, pairing up new sailors with experienced mentors to help them develop the core skills they need to sail at TSC

- For improvers - we are introducing a series of sailing clinics, looking at developing better sailing techniques, such as sail trim, boat handling, boat speed, tacking, gybing and race strategy

- For mentors - this is a great opportunity to meet new people, have a great time and get more involved in the club

- For fun - it's a great opportunity for everyone to get out and sail, whether you want to learn, practice, lark about or try something new!

The series proved very popular last year with both the less experienced sailors, who developed their skill and confidence in a supported environment, and with the mentors, who found it very rewarding to help out and make new friends. And the bar was always buzzing afterwards.

How does it work?

This year we are planning to introduce a slightly more structured approach. The first 4 sessions of the Challenges will be about getting on the water and encouraging people to try new things, while the later sessions will also include a series of races, for those that who enjoy a more competitive environment to develop their racing skills.

There is no formal training on offer, instead there are mentors on hand, who are there to help in whatever way they can. The session will include the following activities:

- Mentoring - working with you on an ad hoc basis, this might be helping you to set up your boat more effectively, going out with you in your boat to work on a particular aspect of your sailing, taking you out in their boats for a new experience or guiding you around the race course helping you to get more competitive. Or anything else you can think of!

- Sailing Clinic - running in parallel with the races (so for Challenge 5 - 10), our instructors will run an improver session to take your core skills to the next level. This will start with a briefing, followed by on-water coaching and a de-brief. Details will be published on the website before each session.

- Coaching - there will be coaches on the water, who will offer help and advice on how to improve your sailing, including during racing.

- Racing - we will run a race series for the last 6 events (Challenge 5 - 10) with prizes for novices and improvers.

What we do in the Winter Challenge will depend on how the first series goes.

Mentors needed can you help?

For the Challenge Series to work, we need as many of our established sailors to come along as possible to act as mentors. You do not need to be a great sailor to be a great help, the role is more about support and encouragement, than instruction. A friendly face and someone to answer a "silly question" or 2, is as important as an expert instructor.

And if you don't want to get your feet wet, it would be great to have some mentors on dry land, who can help getting boats set up and on the water.

We want to get as many boats out as possible, so come on down and get stuck in.

What happens on the day

We recommend that you arrive at least 90 mins before the "start time", which is the time the activity on the water is scheduled to start, there is a lot to do before you get on the water.

The OOD comes up with best programme for the day, based on who is there, what boats they want to sail, the prevailing conditions and the aims for the day. They will ask what you want from the day, help match mentors to learners, give a briefing and run the on water activity.

We strongly encourage people to mix up, for example with double-handers being crewed by mentors who can guide their helm and single handers being grouped with mentors on the water to take a lead and give advice. After the sailing, we sojourn to the bar for a drink, a bite to eat and a debrief. The apr├Ęs-sailing is always well attended, so plan to stay around for an hour or 2 if you can.

We very much hope that this appeals to all of you and we know that its success will depend on as many people as possible turning up and getting stuck in.

You can click here to find the dates.

If you have any questions, please go to the Challenge Series Forum (you'll need to be logged in for this link to work) and we'll try to respond asap.

Last updated 17:41 on 19 April 2023

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