Swanage Sailing Club is booming – meet the brave beginners!

Sailing and Swanage seem to go together and it’s perhaps no surprise that the local club has seen a surge in members this year.

People are going overboard for the water sport – in more ways than one – keen to try something different and get outdoors after a year marred by lockdowns. Swanage Sailing Club located next to the pier, is simply – booming.


Classes for children run on Saturdays and there’s an evening session on Tuesdays for adult beginners and returners.

three sailors

Andy England, Carole Snow and Heather Kitching prepare for the sailing

“I’m a bit nervous”

Among the first-timers at the session on Tuesday 27th July 2021 was Curtis Hand. By day he’s a managing director for an electricity substation, but on Tuesday he decided on a new cut for his jib.

Before setting off he admitted:

“I’m a bit nervous to be fair.”

Curtis Hand

First-timer Curtis Hand admits he’s ‘nervous’ before starting out

Forty or more adults

He wasn’t the only one. Forty or more adults – beginners and those who haven’t sailed since childhood – have been attending the sessions.

It can be daunting, but after some outdoor ‘classroom’ training, they’re ready for the open sea and a spot of fun – and rain.

Sailing Club training
Sailing Club training
Sailing Club training
Swanage sailing club

All the beginners get a thorough briefing before they sail

“Try new things”

Hatty Fawcett, is a business coach for start-ups by day, but in the evening she is a volunteer assistant sailing instructor.

She said:

“It’s been very popular this year. Post Covid people want to get out and try new things.

“Everyone is really friendly. The club is run largely by volunteers, so everybody tries quite hard at mucking in together and teaching each other.”

Instructing sailing

Hatty Fawcett gives some last minute coaching to Julian Vass

Conditions are ‘challenging’

Senior instructor Mike Mombrun described the conditions as ‘challenging’. There’s rain in the air and gusty squalls. Someone reckons it’s a Force 4 out in the bay.

One by one they cast off from the shore and head for the open bay. It’s an invigorating session. There are lots of laughs and a few scary moments. Several people end up in the water and one even runs into the pier. One is brought back in the safety boat after capsizing.


And they’re off…

Setting sail

Curtis gets a helping hand… or six


Now it’s plain sailing…


Sailing away into the bay

“Can’t really live here and not give it a go”

Hatty sums up the evening:

“It’s the gusts that take people by surprise and a number of them capsized. But dinghies are made to capsize and they’re quick to right. It’s all part of the learning process!”

One of the new starters is John Vile, newly moved to Swanage, who said:

“The most exciting and the most difficult of the year. A few people went over a few times!

“I took up sailing because I thought you can’t really live here and not give it a go.”

Boat crashes into the pier

Ooops! One of the boats hits the pier…

Boats out in the bay

Danger… there were one of two unexpected squalls out in the bay

Dinghies return to shore

Counting them all in…

“It was gusty out there”

Adam Kiddell said:

“It was my first time sailing in twenty years. My son does the sailing on the weekend and so I figured I better try it too. I’d forgotten how physical it is. It was gusty out there.”

Fran Sorapure, a headteacher from London, said:

“That was amazing. I just loved every minute of it. It was my first time ever sailing – I went out with an instructor, and he showed me how to do it and he was very good.

“I felt really safe and really excited at the same time. Next time I’m going to go out on my own.”

Returning to shore

One last haul onto the shore

Boat capsizes

And another boat capsizes on the final stretch

“I certainly swore like one”

Julian Vass said:

“It was good. I kept my sense of humour. I don’t know whether I looked like a sailor, but I certainly swore like one. I sailed into the pier, but I had fun!”

Richard Burrell, a stone restorer recently moved to Swanage, said:

“I have fallen in more times than you can imagine. Sailing has just got all the elements – you’re challenging yourself and it brings everyone together.”


Overboard but still clinging on

Safety boat returns

The safety boat is last to return with a rescued sailor

“Can’t wait till next week”

As for Curtis, he made it all around the bay without falling in, just to come a cropper on the approach to the shore.

He said:

“It was really good and the power when the wave gets you for the first time and the boat starts to tip, you just have to have the courage to lean out a bit. But it’s scary.”

So, the million dollar question. Is he going to do it again?:

“Hundred percent. Love it. Can’t wait till next week.”

Rainbow over the sailors

Golden memories for returning sailors

Further information

More about Swanage Sailing Club is on its website

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