Before writing this report, I picked up my Toddbrook Sailing Club calendar to remind myself of the events of the year. Many thanks to all the members who contributed photographs to this calendar and to Margaret for the initial idea and for bringing it to fruition. Every time I see the pictures on the calendar, I am reminded of all those happy times I have spent with good friends.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year, we found ourselves in lockdown with our usual activities cancelled including the new year walk and the annual prize presentation.
Eventually, at the beginning of April, we managed to get out on the water. For me, this involved safety boat duty at Errwood for the first sailing session of the season. Leading up to that point, we had undertaken a survey of members’ views, and arranged an agreement with Combs Sailing Club giving members the option to sail there as well as at Errwood. Indeed, the following weekend, we held the Toddbrook DYS event at Combs. The young sailors braved the cold and the snow throughout the day. After the participants came off the water, with clubhouse and changing rooms out of bounds due to Covid, I had the honour of handing out some well-deserved prizes between flurries of snow.
It didn’t take long for the weather to improve, and I helped with some of the Friday night junior sessions at Combs. Some of these juniors were invited to a two-day training session at Errwood in preparation for the 12-hour event, which was held at Leigh and Lowton instead of Southport this year. It was great to see the training team make best use of both Errwood and Combs waters for the different training activities, and the 12-hour event itself was enjoyed by all.
Thankfully, our annual camping trip to Bala was allowed this year. I didn’t get chance to sail my own boat this time. I borrowed Ralph’s Enterprise (thank you, Ralph) and took some enthusiastic young sailors to Bala and back, returning in all kinds of weather including thunder and lightning. Thankfully, the storm was in the distance and heading away from us, but my young companions found the adventure quite exciting.
Next was the Grad Nationals held at Rutland in quite rough conditions, including four one-hour long back-to-back races on the Sunday. Toddbrook entered four boats and won first overall with Richard Abendstern and Isaac; Third overall, fastest lady and fastest junior with Hannah and Ruby; and the team prize for highest placed three boats. This is a great result for Toddbrook. Many thanks to Richard and Jane for their encouragement over the years which led to this achievement.
This was closely followed by the Grad Northerns at Bassenthwaite, which was another great friendly event. This was held on the same weekend as the GP Youth championship where Toddbrook again achieved fantastic results. Thanks go to Ed for motivating and organising our young sailors.
At the beginning of September, we had a week of cruising on Coniston. Although I enjoyed every moment, the highlight had to be landing on Peel Island, otherwise known as ‘Wild Cat Island’, from Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’ stories. We are all very grateful to Ralph for organising this trip, and I am personally grateful to him for guiding me on some exhilarating mountain bike trails and for the spare inner tubes.
Aside from all this fun, throughout the year I have been working with the trustees and with the committee in going through the plans presented by the Canal and River Trust regarding the new spillway and clubhouse. There are of course many different views to consider and there will be many challenges we have yet to face as the work progresses. I am extremely grateful to the club members, committee and trustees for their support in these very difficult times.
Overall, despite the very challenging circumstances we have faced this year, I have enjoyed taking part in all the club’s activities. These activities have often taken considerable effort to arrange against the backdrop of the pandemic, but I am optimistic that by continuing to be innovative, we can achieve even more next year.