MORE than a dozen Felpham Sailing Club members headed to Alexandra Palace for the RYA Dinghy Show.
This was exciting enough anyway, but this time it was to collect the club’s award as a finalist in the RYA Club of the Year competition – and to see if they were the outright winner.
There was plenty of time to study the various stands, visit the experts for the class associations and pick up trends, tips and hints about boat set-up and sailing tactics.
The dinghy show was full of clubs exhibiting brand new boats with crisp sails - plenty to see and plenty to spend money on. The commodore and three committee members had been invited to a finalists’ lunch where they met the other four club of the year finalists.
The presentation was hosted by RYA CEO Sarah Treseder, emphasising the importance of the award. The plaques for all five finalists, and the eventual winner, were presented by Skandia Team GBR’s Kate Macgregor, a key member of the London 2012 Olympic sailing team.
Felpham SC were first up on the podium for their award and were represented by club commodore Paula Bentley, ably assisted by former commodore Catherine Davies.
Then the citation for the winning club was announced and Papercourt SC were declared the club of the year after some amazing work to secure their long-term future, having saved their club when their landlord decided to sell the land and the lake where they sail.
Maybe Felpham were not the outright winner, but in a field of such high quality, achieving finalist status was a huge complement to the club, committee and officers.
Stephanie Orton and Vikki Payne finished fifth at the 29er Noble Marine winter championships.
The Chichester pair were also named Youth Team of the Year at the Havant Sports Awards after being nominated by Emsworth Sailing Club.
Orton is one of the Jaguar Academy of Sport’s rising stars.