Starcross Yacht Club

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Why Junior Sailing?

Why junior sailing - Emma Phillips - 2011

I started junior sailing when I was 8 years old.  I first went out in the Wayfarer with Silvia and then the club Oppys on a piece of rope. It was a great way to start getting confident being in a boat. As soon as I was confident I got my first ever boat. I sailed it at juniors for about 4 years with all my other friends who sailed Oppys.  We learnt how to tack and gybe, how to sail up wind and downwind and the exciting part how to capsize!
Roadford Lake with all the juniors is the biggest event on the junior calendar. The weekend consists of lots of fun sailing, playing games, sailing over to the cafe for ice cream and camping! It’s always great fun even if it’s raining!  

By the beginning of last year I had out grown my Optimist and moved into a Topper, at this time I didn’t know how much Toppers had to offer. On Friday nights we learnt how to race and the basic skills and rules you need to use when racing. As well as Friday nights, Mark Elkington and Mike Baker ran “Begin to Race” on Saturdays which was a great stepping stone to introduce you in to the first level of racing.
Last September I entered a regional Topper event and finished mid fleet; there were 62 toppers at this event.  At the event I heard about the South West Zone Squad and decided to apply not really knowing if I stood a chance. After doing the other qualifying events my application for the squad was accepted.

I then trained with the squad all winter at clubs all around the South West. I competed at events all over the country  in fleets of over 200 boats at some events, and 370 boats at National championship in Scotland.
I have also made lots of new friends, and got some top results including National Female Champion at Poole Autumn regatta and won the RYA South West Young Sailor of the Year award. Now I am in the National Youth Squad, but if it wasn’t for Starcross Juniors I may not have had this the fantastic sailing year.

The Topper is a brilliant boat for 8 to 16 year olds, the 4.2 rig is a good place to start, and the people who sail Toppers are great fun and really friendly.

So give Starcross juniors a go.  Its great fun, you will make some great friends and you never know where it might take you!

Emma Phillips


I started sailing on the first Junior night, back when i was 5, my parents threw me out in a club Oppy, on a leash in a force 5, I think this is where my love of windy weather comes from. I got my first Oppy when i was 7, it was my first boat restoration (with a bit of help from my Dad), I went up the groups in my oppy ending up in the top group back when it was full of oppies instead of lasers, doing opens and the nationals. Getting some really good coaching and fond memories of the top Oppy group coached by Roger Taylor, Crispin and my Dad. But, not being the smallest child around, I moved up into a Mirror, doing a bit of crewing for a few people including memorable windy open meetings with Olly Taylor. Finally I got my own Mirror, but it didnt feel fast enough as a helm and after a year I moved out and got my first laser.

By this time I had been working at Spinnakers for a year, starting when i was 11. I worked my way up the laser ladder meanwhile getting very valuable training at SYC on friday nights, which considerably helped when it came to doing my youth certificates at spinnakers. After doing the laser thing, I decided that, now being an instructor and having felt i had got everything I could out of the junior boats and nights, I sold my laser and started to help coach the lasers on friday nights in 2003. In 2004 I bought my first hornet, sailing it with Matt McGrath and eventually ended up crewing for Will in 2005. With all our experience, knoweledge and racing skills form the junior nights, we were able to get 10th place at the Hornet Europeans in 2006. Now I'm at Uni on the dinghy team, I sail a 49er and I'm studying to be a senior instructor.

Without the Junior nights, I wouldnt be the sailor and coach i am today. I think that learning to sail, in such a brilliant atmosphere, with your friends and great coaches is really important and its what gave me my headstart in sailing. Thanks to the SYC junior nights, sailing is a huge part of my life, I've made so many friends and had the chance to sail in too many classes to list. I've been to europeans, nationals and too many open meetings to think about, Its all thanks to all the people who put in so much hard work to make sure SYC have future sailors and champions.

Sam Woolner


I started sailing at Starcross when I was six. My first experience was in the good old club wayfarer, where i first took to the helm when it was my turn. I got hooked....

Shortly after i got my own Oppie 'Dolphin'. That was also the first boat i attempted to help dad paint. After that i moved into a pico and started to race on my own. My real racing experience started in the mirror circuit when i crewed for Olly Taylor. We got into the National squad and all, but i got bored, i wanted faster, so i got a laser when i was 10 or 11 and joined in the Friday night racing groups. It improved my sailing so much. Inevitably, being me... by the age of 14 i started to get bored again and wanted a faster double handed boat. So i got Hornet 2108 and started to helm that with Sam crewing.

The hornet was a huge step from a Laser Radial, and after just 10 months came the hornet Europeans, in which Sam and I came 10th overall, with a fantastic weeks racing. By the end of the week we were on form, in force 6, we managed to pull a 6th out of the bag!

One significant thing for me with the friday nights is just how keen it made me and how much fun i had. The social side is awesome as well. Over the years i progressed up the groups to finally in 2006 i decided to assist the others and become an instructor.

Friday nights taught me so much about sailing, and is an opportunity not to miss.

Will McGrath
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 December 2011 09:18  

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