Forty Years of Dinghy Sailing on the Avon
Members of Shirehampton Sailing Club have been dinghy sailing on the River Avon for 40 years.
The club, which is one of the smallest sailing clubs in the county, is also the only tidal dinghy sailing club within the City of Bristol. It has a membership of just under 50, ranging in age from 6 years to 85 years. The club are going to hold a BBQ Party to celebrate 40 years, on 8th September from 3 o’clock.
Established in 1978 after the M5 bridge over the Avon was built and the old Pill Ferry was closed the club still uses the ferry slipway and turnstile building on the Shirehampton bank of the river. There is a small club house which has a seating and changing area, a galley and toilets. For sailors who want a bit more comfort, the next stage for the club is to raise money to redevelop its 35‐year‐old clubhouse to be suitable for today and the next 40 years.
A few years ago, the club won an award from the Royal Sailing Association (RYA) as a champion joining point. This shows the energy amongst the club’s small family membership. Also, the club has links with local RYA Training Centres where people new to sailing can learn to sail and the more experienced can develop their sailing skills. This award is due in part to the club’s excellent sailing facilities, as the slip is in good condition, the club operates a safety boat and there are electric winches to pull up heavy boats.
Dinghy sailing is a bit like riding a bike. Once you can do it you can keep going and the club has members who have kept sailing well into their seventies. Like you need to find a bike to fit your size, you need to find a dinghy to fit your skill and ability, so children will change dinghies as they grow up and again as they get older.
The club is welcoming to new members of all ages and abilities. Once you have learned to sail you can hire one of the club dinghies. These are also available to non‐members with sailing experience.
The sailing water is also relatively safe as the Avon widens below Shirehampton and the tide does not run very fast at the times we sail. You can sail against the tide in even a moderate breeze.
Sailing takes place at different times each weekend as it can only take place two hours before high water and half an hour after. Check the club website for sailing times.
There is a rota of safety boat crews and familiarisation with the safety boat can be provided throughout the year.
If you like mud there is plenty at Shirehampton. The club has a dedicated group of “mudslingers” who clear the mud from the slipway every Saturday morning. Without this work there would be no sailing. If you fancy keeping fit by digging mud (you don’t have to be a sailor) just call down to the club any Saturday morning (bring your boots).
Currently the changing facilities are very limited and to bring in new younger families into the club improvements have to be made. These are likely to cost £50k. Sport England have offered a provisional grant of £20k with the provision that the club raise the other £30k. The club has made a good start on raising this money and there will be plenty of work for members to raise the rest of the money and to bring the project to fruition.
Please do come to the club’s BBQ Party on 8th September starting at 3 o’clock. There will be stalls to entertain adults and children. It will be in the sailing club building and grounds on Station Road, Shirehampton. It is to celebrate the club’s birthday and to raise money for the redevelopment of the clubhouse, and for prospective sailors to have a look at our excellent sailing area. The party is being held in conjunction with the Beer and Cider Festival at the Lamplighters Pub on the same day. Come along and meet the friendly membership, as the club is on the lookout for new and enthusiastic sailors to keep the club afloat for another 40 years at least!