Parkstone Yacht Club, with its excellent facilities for young sailors, played host to the Buckholme Towers Sailing Academy for the second year running in 2013. Pupils from Buckholme and other local schools, aged six to 11 years, received coaching in the popular Optimist sailing dinghy.   The Optimist dinghy is a wonderful boat for children. The Optimist class has nurtured some of the greatest sailors in the world, including five times Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie.

Headmaster Iain Robertson explains how the pupils benefited from their new skills.

“We aim to provide the pupils at Buckholme with a wide range of activities to widen their skillset. The opportunity for seven taster sessions at Parkstone Yacht Club seemed an ideal route for an introduction to sailing. Sailing is a demanding sport that teaches self-reliance, initiative and an appreciation for the environment. Additionally, children who are not naturally competitive on a sports field often become more so when they start to sail a boat with other people around them – this can drive them to realise that to succeed they need to work towards physical fitness, agility and to practise the myriad of skills that it takes to sail tactically and fast.

“Thomas Dunne, Parkstone Yacht Club’s resident training professional and I led the sessions. It’s great to see that the children appreciate and enjoy what we have on our doorstep in Poole. We teach the pupils the fundamentals of sailing, broadly following the Optimist Class Association (IOCA) training programme.  By the end they understand every part of the boat, how it is rigged and how to sail a simple course.

“Several of the children who took part in this year’s course were able to go on and race at Parkstone Yacht Club’s youth week along with hundreds of other children who participate in a range of activities on and off the water. They get the opportunity to make new friends in the area and learn the importance of team work and organisation.

“In just two seasons, pupils from the Buckholme Towers Sailing Academy have produced some spectacular results. One of the pupils who started sailing last year has just qualified to the hotly contested Royal Yachting Association Zone Squad and another competed in the Cadet National Championships in a two person youth dinghy.

“Sailing is a sport, at least as demanding as any other, in an environment that is always changing and sometimes challenging. Sailors need to look out for each other, push themselves physically and technically and compete with integrity in a sport that is self-policing. This is why I strongly believe sailing is a valuable addition to the range of sports that we offer at Buckholme Towers and I recommend that more schools get involved in the challenge.”

*The facilities at Parkstone Yacht Club are open to all local schools.