Our normal sailing season runs over the summer, from early April to late October. We have four planned sessions throughout the week:
Saturday afternoon sail training
Sunday morning racing
Wednesday evening freestyle + team racing
Friday afternoon freestyle
Our poolboat fleet of Topaz, Pico, Laser 1 and a Topper Catamaran are available for these sessions.
The main club activity is regular racing sessions on Sunday mornings. Members gather by about 10am to start rigging their boats, we then hold a race briefing, and all help to launch the rescue boat before setting sail. Normally, we aim to be on the water by 11am and have two races of up to 45 minutes each. Add in a little faffing before and after each race, and we are usually landing around 1pm.
There is however no obligation to take part in racing. Many members, especially when they first join, will head out for a casual sail at the same time as the racing is taking place. The rescue boat will be out, keeping an eye on both those racing and those not racing. If you are not participating in the racing, all that is asked is to stay well clear of those racing, their likely routes and any race marker buoys.
Other days over summer
Over high summer, when the evenings are long and conditions are looking favourable for sailing, members often arrange to meet for a casual sail on Wednesdays in the late afternoon/ early evening. These sessions are generally organised via our members' WhatsApp group. And – not remotely uncoincidentally – Wednesday evening is also our regular social night, so the sailors tend to retire to the club bar afterwards!
Many members would like to see more boats on the water more often, but logistics and a lack of volunteers for duties can frustrate these ambitions. While boat-owning members can take out their own boats at any time, we do have restrictions on when pool boats can be taken out. If you become a regular user of the pool boats but would rather sail when there is rescue cover, then your opportunities to take out a boat will be increased if we – as a club, including you! – hold more sessions where we can provide some form of rescue cover. For that, we need volunteers to crew the rescue boat and a "pool-boat manager" for each session. And so – once you are a member – if you think we should be running more sailing sessions, feel free to suggest it on our members' WhatsApp group and perhaps more sessions will get organised!
Update, September 2021: A wonderful newbie called Simon recently updated his Dinghy Instructor qualification, became our newest "pool-boat manager" and has been leading additional sessions on Friday afternoons! We also had our inaugural '1871 Cup', a race for newer members on the day of our 150th birthday party. Hopefully with all of our enthusiatic newbies, ranging from complete sailing novices to the highly qualified, we can continue to add more sailing sessions to our calendar.
We also organise a number of sailing weekends each year. In 2022 we will be setting off from our beach in July to invade our neighbours at Newhaven Sailing Club, before embarking on our annual “Bognor Raid” in August. And each year a contingent of our cat sailors strap their trusty 16s to some road trailers and head to the Hobie Nationals, held at Poole Yacht Club.
Outside the season
Members can access our changing rooms and storage facilities 24/7, all year round. Until a few years ago, many owners of catamarans and stayed monos left their masts up over winter and – very, very occasionally – the brave and cold-tolerant took out their boats over winter.
Winter on Brighton Beach is however rather tough on aging stays, and after a number of dangerous mast falls onto the Lower Promenade, we introduced the requirement that masts be taken down outside of our sailing season. Our setup nonetheless allows boat owners to take out their own craft at any time throughout the year.
And so, if you awake on a glorious January morning to a brisk north-easterly flattening the waves and an irrational desire to put your thermoregulation to the test, you can certainly take out your own boat. You will however need to erect your mast beforehand and take it down afterwards. And, as always when rescue cover is not provided, make sure that your boat is seaworthy and you have made a realistic assessment of your abilities in the conditions on the day.