SAILING: A BALSALL-Common based sailing club could be named as Britain’s best after being shortlisted for the prestigious RYA Club of the Year Award.
The Heart of England Offshore Cruising Club (HOEOCA) enables people in the Midlands who love sailing to stay connected to their passion despite living so far from the sea.
Now the club is one of five finalists at this weekend’s RYA Club of the Year awards night, hosted at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace on Saturday, March 4.
The Royal Yachting Association presents the annual award in recognition of how well a club promotes the sport while making sailing as inclusive and accessible to their local community.
The HOEOCA has been specifically recognised for its achievements in innovation and the fact you don’t have to own or have access to a yacht to be involved.
Organising charters and ‘shared cost cruising’ to make offshore sailing more accessible, the club made trips to the Channel Islands and Malta last year.
Judy Lambourne, HOEOCA commodore, said: “The biggest barrier for us is distance from the sea.
“We’ve managed to overcome that barrier though and are delighted to have been shortlisted as a RYA Club of the Year finalist.
“Some of our members are dinghy sailors looking to expand their horizons while others have never sailed but like the idea of an adventure.”
“We give all of these people a way they can meet other people just like them, somewhere they can develop their skills and knowledge and get out on the sea regularly.”
HOEOCA now boasts 150 members, three of which sailed across the Atlantic in 2016.
They’ll face tough competition at the awards night with clubs from Wiltshire, Hartlepool, the Lake District and Staffordshire all shortlisted too.
Jackie Bennetts, RYA club support advisor, said: “All these clubs have worked hard to create outstanding projects and activities which make it possible for more people to enjoy being on the water.”
Visit www.hoeoca.org.uk for further information about how to get involved with the club.