four boats passing the control yacht

EAST hosts the Blind Nationals 2012

On May 18th – 20th, EAST, for the fourth year in succession, hosted the UK Blind National Sailing Championships. This year saw seven Squibs take to the water for a weekend of intense racing on the River Orwell.  As always, EAST’s volunteers, from both the Keelboat Section and the VI Cruising Section, rose to the occasion, supporting the event in a number of roles, including crewing the patrol boats, assisting with the launching and rigging of the fleet, making lunches for all those taking part, and providing transport for the competitors and tacticians.

On Friday, the competitors arrived from as far afield as Yorkshire, and from as nearby as Braintree in Essex, and welcomed to this year’s event by Lucy Hodges from Blind Sailing, and Sam Honour the EAST Trustee, who this year was responsible for organising the event. This was followed by series of training exercises and practice races, both on the water and on land, allowing those taking part to get an idea of what sailing area was like, and to familiarise themselves with their boats. In the evening, as a part their long-term training programme, competitors then took part in a strength and conditioning session, lead by an Olympic coach, and well earned supper of fish and chips.

On Saturday, the fleet left Suffolk Yacht Harbour for a full day’s racing. Powerboats crewed by EAST volunteers provided safety cover, alerting other river users to the racing that was taking place, and distributing packed lunches among the competitors and support teams, meaning that the fleet did not need to return to the marina for lunch. Competitors took part in six races during Saturday, which were followed by an evening meal of cottage pie in the Harbour Room at Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

On Sunday, two more races took place, before returning to the marina for a final debrief from RYA Coach Jonny McGovern, followed by the prize-giving ceremony for the competitors, and time was taken to acknowledge a number of the volunteers who had made a particular contribution to the running of this year’s event. Sara Davey, wife of competitor Toby Davey, said that the event “gets better and better every year.”

Photos from this year’s event are found on EAST’s Facebook page

To find out more about racing with EAST, please email Sam Honour on

EAST would like the following individuals and organisations, without whom this year’s event would not have been possible:

• Mike Oldroyd, who acted as Race Officer throughout the weekend
• Ipswich and East Suffolk Headway, for the use of their minibus throughout the weekend
• Nigel Mower, who acted as mark layer throughout the weekend
• Andie Ellmers, for the use of his RIB and yacht throughout the weekend
• Roger Harvey and Paul Trudgett for the use of their Squibs at this year’s event
• Haven Ports Yacht Club, RYA Sailability and Bishop Skinner for their support of the event

Keep up to date with EAST’s activities on our website, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@EAST_Sailing).

EAST is a registered charity (No. 1060465) and is affiliated to RYA, RYA Sailability, SAVO, and Harwich Area Sailing Association.