Renowned for producing top quality Laser and hard-as-nails skiff sailors, this little dinghy club has so much more on offer. For sailing conditions, the bay has everything to offer throughout the year. From shifty flat water, to a booming sea breeze on a standard Solent chop, and if you really enjoy a challenge, a wind against tide “Washing Machine” mode. We are lucky, in that we are one of the few clubs that can launch, regardless of how far out the tide is and the water is fairly deep, making it easy to get the foils down and locked in early. Having said that – on occasion, you can spend all day practicing your 100 backwards facing tacks and not make it half way to the lifeboat station(!)
When I moved from another local club at the end of 2018, I was genuinely shocked at how friendly the members are and how welcoming and accommodation the club is. Unless the weather is bordering on biblical, there are always people out sailing, lounging on the beach or bimbling with things in the boatpark. Forgot the right size drill bit? Someone’s bound to have one and willing to lend. Worried about launching and recovery in a blustery onshore? The club has such a beach culture, there will be someone on the beach to get your trolley and/or gambling with critical welly depth to hold the transom while you climb aboard.
In 2019 the club added a “Dinghy Handicap” start to the Sunday Racing line up. The Europes dominate this, being the versatile machine they are. If it’s unanimously agreed that it’s agreeably breezy, we’ll stick up the imaginary Oscar flag and allow the Finn style pumping down wind – as if the regular hiking wasn’t enough of a work-out. Other regular attendees in the handicap fleet are OKs, RS300, 600, Aero 5 and International Canoes and our “Round the Cans” is usually a triangle-sausage or a squiffy trapezoidal shape course with a good beat to windward in there somewhere.
If racing’s not for you, or you’re worried about the family being in tow, Stokes Bay has a Cadet Club for the kids, Cruising Club, nearby tennis court, mini-golf, museums and a really nice promenade for a walk or jog along the seafront. If all else fails, the club has thriving beach community so you’re likely to be sat in the shingle amongst other members, complete with a ’99 from the café next door.
Unlike most, if not all the other 6 clubs I have been a member of since I learnt to sail – Stokes Bay has no party lines drawn between the fleets. There is a bit of a running joke about laser sailors, but they laugh along with this (I suppose they think it’s not them but one of the others). There are regular socials such as pub quizzes, fancy dress dinners, live music, mini-triathlon, BBQs, American supper, dinner-dance prize giving…. The list goes on! During Lock down V1.0, there was something on nearly every day via Zoom – interviews, updates from the committees, quizzes, eSailing and talks/lectures…again to name but a few things. The energy and enthusiasm in the club is crackers.
The club have identified the Europe Class (all by themselves, with no input from me this time)! as a key class for the Bay. Last year we grew from 1 to 4 boats and have a further 3 europe day sailing visitors. The club has a good history with europe sailors – previous nationals winner and now Olympic coach Penny Clark is a local, Steve Cockerill has his name on the champions board a fair bit and the 1995 nationals winner was also from Stokes Bay.
This year, on October 2nd and 3rd, the club is holding the Europe open, alongside the OKs and RS300s. We hope to see you all there but with an annual fee of £288 for membership and a Europe size berth, I hope that like me, you’ll choose to stay with us for good.
For event reports see here