All aboard kids!
A brilliant sailing school to get kids into this water sport and they're running beginners' courses in Oct half term.
A couple of weeks left until life resumes to some normality and we shove the little darlings back into uniform and I’ll book myself into rehab. Half term and holidays seem to appear far too quickly – I’m sure they loose a few weeks each term. I’m always the one desperately ringing round for play dates the week before the kids breat up, as I’m too lazy to book my kids into any course.
A last minute Mandy here managed to squeeze the mini-mudders into a sailing course at Paxton Lakes Sailing Club this summer and they were blown away (boom boom!). Word has reached my lugholes that they’ve another course planned for Oct half term so here’s an early bird heads up on what you can expect.
Paxton Lakes are a series of man-made lakes located just off the A1 near St Neots – there’s a nature reserve, a waterski and wakeboard club and Paxton Lakes sailing club. It’s tucked away down a narrow track, if you weren’t looking for it you’d fly past without a second glance.
Unlike some of the larger expanses of water that we have around this county, namely Graham Water which plays host to some serious sailing competitions these days, Paxton Lakes is a much smaller and intimate affair. The waters are more sheltered so offer better conditions for novices but don’t be fooled this isn’t a duck pond – the winds can still pick up providing challenges for more experienced sailors. There’s a small clubhouse with changing rooms – it’s basic but it does the job bearing in mind that everything gets rather wet! Parking is ad-hoc on the grass and as you’d expect from a sailing club there are sailing boats parked everywhere.
The sailing club are a RYA Recognised Training Centre and run various courses during the holidays. The mini-mudders, having never sailed before, were booked on the RYA National sailing Level 1 course – Start Sailing which runs over four days, in the afternoon 1.30pm – 4.30pm.
There was a small amount of theory, learning about the various parts of the boat and some very basics of sailing but the majority of the time was hands-on sailing on the lake. The kids learnt on a mixture of Toppers and Pico’s, which are easy to handle and good for beginners. By the end of the first day they had learnt to capsize, tack and jib and were out sailing in pairs – pretty cool!
The kids were hooked from day one and it’s such a relief when kids are excited about going to activities the next day. I didn’t have to nag or shout to get them in the car, lunch was wolfed down in a jiffy and they had their wetsuits on and were waiting in the car whilst I was still finishing my coffee.
So what excited them about sailing? I asked one mini-mudder what she enjoyed after the first day and her reply was the independence, being out on the water on your own – well she weren’t quite out on their own, she was in a boat in a pair and they had a safety boat patrolling but clearly the sense of being in control had hit home.
Their coach was Vanessa, who I’m sure had been a classroom teacher in a previous life as she had that calm, confident but don’t mess voice – when everything around her was going haywire. Technical points were explained in a basic way and the kids had a clear idea of what they were attempting to do. The last day culminated with an award ceremony where the kids were given their certificates and log books.
On a practical point the sailing club provides buoyancy aids but we had to provide our own wetsuits and the kids wore old trainers (we didn’t have sailing shoes). The club state that wetsuits aren’t essential but bearing in mind that they’re in the water a fair bit – the other mini-madder took a few days to realise that the aim is to stay out of the water – If you can beg, borrow or steal one I would highly recommend it particularly as Oct can be cold.
The cost for the four day course is £85 and I paid £5 for their individual log book which they will now keep with them and you’ll need to be eight or over to take part.
Paxton Lake Sailing Club, Nursey Gardens, Little Paxton, St Neots, PE19 6EY, facebook.com