Dinghy sailors launch from the beach in front of the clubhouse to sail in Lyme Bay and are also able to enjoy the more sheltered surroundings of the River Axe. Members sail a variety of dinghies at AYC and the Club owns a number of training dinghies in the Topper Topaz range which are particularly suited to beach launch & retrieval. These Club training dinghies allow members who are new to dinghy sailing to gain some basic skills with more experienced dinghy sailors, before considering buying their own boat.
There is a designated dinghy park area in the yard where members can keep their dinghies - members currently sail their own Vibes, Topazs, Toppers, Tazs, Solos, Mirrors, Lasers, Picos, Skows, Larks, Oppis and a Miracle. The Axe One Design (AOD) is a traditional 12 foot clinker built Bermudan rigged dinghy which was designed specifically for members of the AYC in 1951 and there are currently 7 AODs in the fleet (see Axe One Design website).
Dinghy sailing at AYC - recent developments
In the post war years, dinghy sailing was the predominant Club activity, initially with the Axe One Design fleet and then with the Scorpion Class dinghy. In the early 1970s the Club fleet numbered approximately 30 Scorpions and the leading boats were also appearing at the top of the fleet in national and area championships. However, with the move toward single handers in the late 70's, the number of dinghy sailors at AYC dwindled and cruiser sailing became a more popular activity.
Over the last few years, with the establishment of the Cadet section, dinghy sailing at the Club has seen a welcome resurgence. Although AYC does not yet offer RYA dinghy training courses, there has been increasing enthusiasm for getting the younger members of the Club out on the water. In 2011 the Executive Committee decided to invest some of the legacy left by John Templeton-Knight in three RS Fevas for use by cadets. A 5-year strategy for developing family sailing at AYC was then put together in October 2012 and a number of second hand Oppi & Topper dinghies were purchased for use predominantly on the River Axe.
An annual Cadet Activity Week during the summer holidays was introduced in 2013. Initially instructors were brought in from neighbouring centres for dinghy training sessions during the week, but increasingly we have been able to provide this training 'in house' with a number of Club members now trained as RYA instructors. Cadets & their parents have also had the opportunity to complete stages/levels of the RYA Sailing Schemes at neighbouring centres.
In 2016, six new Topaz Taz dinghies replaced the old Oppi fleet as the Club's entry level dinghy for cadets. The Club was also awarded a Sport England grant for a project to encourage more adults & older teenagers to try dinghy sailing. With this grant, three training dinghies suitable for adults (two Topaz Vibes & a Topaz Argo) were purchased, enabling the Club to offer dinghy sailing taster sessions and basic training to adults & older teenagers as well as cadets. Following on from two very successful 'Push The Boat Out' open days, the number of families joining the Club has increased significantly and the number of adults (both existing & new members) wanting to get involved in dinghy sailing has also increased.
Saturday afternoons have become fun 'skill development' sessions for dinghy sailors, both adults & cadets, sailing their own boats or a Club training dinghy (subject to availability). Thanks to a rota of volunteer support boat crews and officers of the day, more experienced dinghy sailors have offered the less experienced support & advice. The growing popularity of these sessions has been extraordinary with a total of 87 individuals taking to the water on Saturday afternoons in 2016, many sailing regularly. For 2017, these Saturday sessions will include a 10 race series from June to August, designed to introduce adults & cadets to racing. Approximately one Saturday per month 'Try Sailing' taster sessions will be offered for first-timers who want to have a go (see Saturday Sailing).
AYC has been a recognised training centre for a number of RYA shore based courses since 1974. In 2015 the Club also gained recognition from the RYA to run powerboat courses. As a result, we now have more members trained as support boat drivers who can support the family sailing activities and dinghy racing. We are aiming to add Dinghy Instruction to our list of RYA recognised courses for 2017 so that we can certificate the courses we run for AYC members.
Club Dinghy Racing - Bay & River
All dinghy sailors (adults & cadets) are encouraged to take part in the Club racing programme and many of the more experienced cadets are already showing the adults a thing or two! There is an expectation that those taking part in Club racing have an appreciation of the rules of the road and are confident in their sailing ability, but racing is an excellent way to improve your skills.
Bay racing takes place on Sunday mornings from May to October, weather permitting. For 2017, racing is also programmed to take place on Sunday afternoons during the summer months. A 6 week Wednesday evening dinghy series is also being trialled over the summer holidays (see Club Dinghy Racing).
The River Race series has 12 races programmed for 2017. These are open to all classes of dinghy, with racing for both General Handicap and individual Class trophies (AODs, Skows, Mirrors & cadets) (see River Races).
Click HERE for 2017 Dinghy Sailing programme