Broadwater Sailing Club
The Club and its Members
Formed in 1972 Broadwater is an inland sailing club with coastal connections. More than 30 years after its formation, there are still some of the founder members around. A number of these have moved on to develop yachting interests, with cruisers berthed on the tidal waters of the East and South coasts. The Club is affiliated to the RYA and whilst not a teaching establishment, Broadwater has become a club for everyone who enjoys sailing - from youngsters learning the basics in Optimists and Toppers to experienced 'blue-water' sailors. Broadwater now has over 240 family and junior members, which with spouses and children gives a total membership of over 500.
Broadwater Lake is situated close to the Grand Union Canal and the River Colne, once a gravel pit it is now a very attractive stretch of water providing one of the largest sailing lakes in the Thames Valley. The sailing area is nearly 1 km long and 3/4 km wide, with a line of islands dotted along one side. There is a small nature reserve at one end attracting a variety of water birds. Until a few years ago there were number of shallows which affected parts of the sailing area. We had these removed in the late 1990's, a move that was hailed by the members as the best value for money ever spent by the club.
Broadwater is a friendly, informal club with sailing permitted seven days a week, enabling members ranging from casual cruisers to serious racers to co-exist without problems. This flexibility is the secret of the Club's continued success and probably explains why several clubs with dwindling numbers have merged with us in recent years. The lake is suitable for dinghies up to about 16 ft. Catamarans, sailboards and leisure powerboats are not permitted to use the lake. Safety boats are operated at the weekend and during organised racing by members acting as Duty Officer on a rota. This involves each member giving up half a day on a Saturday or Sunday every 10-12 months; instruction in the use of the boats is provided to new members.
The Club encourages members to sail their own boats, however, it has five Optimists, eight Toppers, four RS Feva XLs, two standard single hander Lasers, a Laser2000 and a Wanderer dinghy all available for occasional use by members. In addition there is the "Committee Boat" a diesel launch used for starting races, a 40hp fast safety boat and two further safety boats for use as required.
Cruising and Racing
Racing takes place throughout the year on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings during the summer months. Entry is open to all dinghy classes; the most popular fleets are Solo, Merlin Rocket, Laser and Enterprise.
On Sunday mornings there are two races, pursuit and handicap, and on Wednesdays a pursuit race, with typically 20-25 boats on the water. A full programme of events is organised throughout the year including club regattas and open events for the Enterprise and Solo Association calendars.
A number of special annual events are also organised, including the "Super Cup", a series with nine or more short races held on a single day and the Nelson Regatta held on Remembrance Sunday at which funds are raised for charity. In 2005 a new venture was a 12hour race organised to raise funds for a local cancer hospice and the Jubilee Sailing Trust. This was a great success and is likely to become an annual event in the calendar.
Groups of members organise occasional "away" events on the coast. These normally comprise a number of yachts crewed by Club members and their friends cruising at such locations as the Solent and the Isle of Wight or the East Coast. One such event saw several boats going across to Holland for a few days. The main emphasis of these events is enjoyable sailing and socialising amongst the crews.
The Club runs a Junior Sailing Programme designed for children in the age range 5 to 16 years. The club fleet of Optimists, Toppers and RS Feva XL are used to introduce children to sailing with a variety of informal fun activities as well as some race training for the more competitive. The emphasis is on safety, fun and variety.
The Junior Sailing Programme runs from March to September with sessions on Saturday afternoons. In addition to the fun sailing we have a Junior Helm race, an end of season Junior Regatta and a supervised "Fun Week" at the start of the school summer holidays. There is also an annual cruise at Chichester in May.
A number of social events are organised by the Club or groups of members. These include: barbecues, ten pin bowling, quiz evening, fitting-out supper, Christmas dinner, walking and cycle rides. Wednesday evening racing is often followed with drinks and snacks in a local inn where new members are always welcome.
Clubhouse and Dinghy Park
The single story Clubhouse has a shaded veranda and is equipped with a modern galley, a heated lounge area, heated changing rooms, toilets and showers. A Portakabin provides an "overflow" changing room also equipped with toilet, washing facilities and shower. Next to the clubhouse there is a patio with picnic tables and a barbecue. A hose point is available to enable members to wash their boats.
The Dinghy Park has concrete paths leading to grass spaces for some 260 boats and there are 3 concrete slipways each with a pontoon giving access to the water. An area is also provided for members to store their boat trailers. Petrol mowers and some gardening tools are available to members for tidying boat berths. There is adequate parking for members' cars. Occasional work parties are organised to undertake particular projects or keep the premises tidy. The car park and main areas of the site are maintained by a groundsman.
The Club is within 10minutes drive of Junction 1 of the M40 or Junctions 16 and 17 of the M25. Access to the club is from Moorhall Road opposite the The Bear on the Barge pub. There is a locked barrier across the access road to which members have keys. Visitors will need to make prior arrangements with the Membership Secretary or on Saturdays or Sundays telephone the clubhouse when they arrive at the barrier.