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Neptune Sailing - Youth Groups

No stopping now!
Photograph courtesy of Anthony Cullen

About the Youth Groups

Neptune Youth Group is run by volunteers with the aim of developing members' skills and improving their understanding of sailing.
Young people often join us with little or no experience of sailing and frequently stay with us for a number of years. We have three different groups, aimed at Beginner, Improver and Advanced Stages of the RYA scheme.
Those with some experience are encouraged to join the group working towards their current personal level (eg. those holding inland Stage 1/2 should join the Beginner group). This enables them to adjust to the demands of sailing on tidal waters.
We organise regular events, such as Neptune Regatta and Family Sail days which enable all Youth Group members to come together.
There is an expectation that members and their parents will take an active role in supporting the operation of the centre. This might be through joining work parties or by using skills to support the management committees. We actively encourage members' parents to get involved by offering parents' training sessions for those interested in sailing. Many have trained as support boat drivers.

Aims of the Youth Group

Our Youth Group Chairman, explains our aims.

1. To provide young people with a fantastic opportunity to gain sailing experience on a regular basis amidst the beautiful setting of the River Orwell where they will get to know and love their environment.

2. To have fun with their peers, messing about on the water; learning the basics and moving on to the more advanced sailing techniques such as seamanship and spinnakers, having numerous water fights, covered in mud up to their armpits when the tide is against us, seeing a seal swimming in the river as we sail along.

3. Gaining the formal RYA sailing qualifications levels 1-4, the more advanced modules and in some cases moving on to train as sailing instructors.

Neptune provides a unique formative sailing experience for young people and it is the belief of the helpers and instructors that the aims are of equal importance. Traditionally this has been delivered over a 5 year period with sailors attending for one year on a Tuesday evening and two years on both a Wednesday and Thursday evening. Occasionally a more accelerated programme has been requested or offered whereby a child may skip a year. This is the exception and not the norm and is done so at the discretion of the relevant instructors: it is strongly discouraged for the younger sailors. The youngest age at which sailors may join us is the school year in which they will be 10, which for most children is year 5. If the children progress through the programme at the recommended rate they do on the whole get to sail with similarly aged children and are of a sufficient level of maturity to tackle the more advanced modules and the Assistant Instructor course. Places on each evening are of a finite number and priority is given to those sailors who have worked their way through.

For those who have requested an accelerated place, a meeting is being held after half term to discuss these and you will be informed as soon as a decision has been reached. In the meantime your child’s place on their normal evening will be held unless we have been advised otherwise.

Please do bear in mind that all our committee, helpers and instructors are volunteers and whilst we work as speedily as we can to resolve any issues it can in some cases take time for everyone to have a free moment to consider things.

Those of you who have been with Neptune for sometime will already be aware of the above, but for our newer members the five year nature of the programme may not have been immediately apparent and steps will be taken to make this clearer on the website. Apologies to all who were unaware and if this causes problems for anyone the utmost will be done to resolve them.

OnBoard FevaFest : Chris Hussey writes

FevaFest medallists 2013

Youngsters who are new to sailing got a taste of racing at the OnBoard FevaFest held in Suffolk on Sunday, 22 September.

The festival, at Neptune Sailing, on the River Orwell, near Ipswich, was marked by challenging light winds and was closely contested, with three of the six competing teams finishing with three wins apiece. On points scored, a team from the Royal Harwich Yacht Club called Team Awesome Ninja were the winners. One of two teams from Neptune Youth Group took second place, Orford Sailing Club were third and Harwich Town Sailing Club fourth. Also taking part were a team from Felixstowe Ferry Youth Sailing. All of the 29 youngsters, aged 11-16, taking part had learned to sail through the RYA’s OnBoard scheme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people through schools, youth groups and training centres. Chris Hussey, the RYA’s Sailing Development Officer for Suffolk and Essex, was delighted with how the day went, particularly in view of the difficulties faced by competitors and organisers. The 29 competitors were more than the 20 expected to take part and the fitful, light winds made it difficult to fit the 15 races within the tidal window around and the start sequence. But we got there,” he said, ”by keeping the races within 10 minutes, including the turn around and the start sequence.“

He said that the winning team was the first from the Royal Harwich Yacht Club to compete in FevaFest, which is raced in Feva dinghies, although the club’s chief instructor, Joe Hunt, was instrumental in the concept and format of the original FevaFest in 2011. Chris Hussey also praised the second-placed Neptune Youth Group, named Neptune 2.

“This was a fantastic result for Neptune 2, a team that was entered at the last minute and, by determination and persistence, they managed a great result,” he said. The day’s racing started in promising conditions but the wind quickly dropped to the forecast WNW 3-4mph breeze, with a flooding tide against the wind making things tricky. There was a short postponement between races eight and nine when the wind dropped to nothing but it came back enough for the programme of 15 races to be completed.

Among those who enjoyed the day was Harriet Memory, aged 16, of Neptune Sailing. She said: “The FevaFest was a great opportunity to engage in some friendly team racing. Everyone was very competitive and passionate about sailing which made it a super fun and active day.”

The event was supported by boat-builder RS Sailing and boating accessories company Harken, which gave items which were used as spot prizes and thank yous to volunteers who made the day possible.

Over a ten-year period OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants. So far it’s nicely on track.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the RYA’s website or the OnBoard website