Orford Sailing Club is not just a small friendly sailing club but a place where young people make enduring friendships. It has become a long standing tradition that many youngsters develop a passion for sailing and go on to become qualified RYA Dinghy Instructors who inspire the next generation of sailors.
The baton passes quickly down from sibling to sibling and it’s hardly surprising to see several families with multiple relatives who have spanned several years of service and volunteering at the club.
Instructors are encouraged to start off as helpers before getting an Assistant Instructor qualification and then going on to fully qualify with the RYA. Children being taught are inspired to be Instructors by their Instructors. It is very much a badge of honour.
A passion for long summers spent in Orford and the strong sense the club has of family and community spirit. Every year it’s thrilling to see OSC members returning to the club with their own children in tow who catch the sailing bug and want to join our team.
It is a familiar pattern – and long may it last!
Whilst many sailing clubs need to recruit instructors from other clubs or areas, OSC prides itself on the description ‘home grown’. Indeed, over the past several years we have been very fortunate to also have our own Senior Instructors and Chief Instructors.
Suzy Cooper has brilliantly held both the Senior Instructor and Chief Instructor roles.
It is with both gratitude and sadness that we realize that perhaps now she needs to leave us in order to develop her own career.
For the last four years the incomparable Suzy has been OSC’s Chief Instructor. Suzy is 23 and has sailed with her family at OSC for fifteen years.
“I started out sitting in the front of a Mirror with my mum and did my first sailing course at OSC when I was 10.
I have been an Instructor since I was 16, so for about 8 years now!
I like sailing at Orford because every time you go on the river it is different, and yet it always feels like home.
For me, I love teaching because I get to see other people getting excited and enjoying one of my favourite things in the world. I love getting to spread a love of the river and the sport.
My favourite boat is either a Pico (because they are practically indestructible and nothing can ever go too far wrong), or our little day boat ‘Bojangles’ because I love being able to sleep on the water and am really enjoying learning to sail and DIY her.
I don’t tend to race, and when I do I’m likely to finish rather near the back!
I love the feeling in the evening after a day in the salt and wind and sun.”
And Suzy’s favourite moments /mishaps on the water in 2021 are
“Too many to count!
My best sailing moment is probably laughing the entire way round the sea race with my older sister Gen in huge waves with the spinnaker up.
One that sticks out is failing to even make it round the first mark of the Instructor’s race after capsizing a topper several times and flipping backwards out of it, in front of all the parents, whose children I had just been teaching. Either that or being shipwrecked!
Also the Junior Regatta where we were four Instructors in a Hartley and were greeted by all the students from that years training programme catching us when we landed and shouting and splashing.
And hearing about the amazing history of Orford Sailing Club and the Orford 10 footers from some of the older members, David Foreman, Migs Howard and Mary Goldin, who have been sailing on our river long before us!”
21 year old Ruby learnt to sail at OSC nine years ago and has been an OSC Instructor for five years.
“OSC has a great sense of community, creating a friendly environment in which sailors support and help each other.
I really enjoy seeing students improve their sailing and discover a passion for it. But it is important for students to be taught properly so they can enjoy sailing safely.
I love RS Fevas because I think they are fantastic boats for beginners and I learnt to sail in one myself.
I occasionally race for fun and I love the sense of freedom that sailing gives me.
My biggest mishap sailing was when my rudder popped off in the middle of the river and I had to dive in and swim after it.
My best moment sailing was when Tom and I got the spinnaker flying on the Feva and we zoomed to Aldeburgh.
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was sailing the Sea Race because it’s always a fun challenge and it was nice to sail it with my grandfather.”
22 year old Rachael has sailed at OSC since she was 11 and has completed all her sailing courses at OSC.
“I became a qualified DI in 2017.
I love OSC because of the community and the friends I have made there. The friends I made when I was 11 are still at the club and I love the fact that we have all grown up together. Everyone is very friendly and there is no ‘pressure’ to be a competitive sailor and the main goal of the club is to make sure everyone is having fun and enjoying sailing as much as possible, regardless of ability.
As an Instructor I enjoy passing on skills to others in the hope that they will enjoy sailing as much as I do and hopefully enjoy OSC so much that they will then go on to be the next generation of Instructors at the club.
I love seeing the kids enjoy themselves and knowing that they have so much fun they want to come back every year. Seeing the same faces year on year is really nice. I think that it is so important for the kids to be taught to sail properly so that they can go on to sail independently, but I also think it is super important that they have fun whilst learning in order to develop a true love for the sport!
I have two favourite boats. I love Picos because my favourite type of sailing is going out with a friend on a calm (ish) evening and Picos are perfect for this! But a 29er is another favourite of mine because of how speedy they are and also because they have a trapeze and that is super fun.
I normally only race on the Junior and Senior Regatta Days because they are so much fun. I would love to win the Instructors race one day but the closest to date has been a 2nd place!
I love the way sailing makes me feel. I love gliding along the water and feeling the wind on my face. It feels like a break from being on land. I also love it because I can go out with my friends and I like that its also another form of travel. I love sailing with friends to first landing, to camp or have a BBQ.
My worst moment on the water was a pic nic on the spit. I did not haul my boat far enough on to the beach and a rising tide swept my boat away down the river towards the club! Mads and I tried our best to swim after it but obviously this was not successful …. Luckily, Philip “(Orford HM)” came to rescue us … and the boat!
A brilliant moment was when Mads fell backwards out of our Feva during the Racing & Spinnaker course and I realised I could sail a Feva single-handed, with the Spinnaker flying for the first time!! I screamed a lot … and I DID go back for Mads eventually.
My best moment in 2021 was seeing my boyfriend Joe helm for the first time – with Caroline Cooper as crew!”
20 year old Miranda has sailed at OSC for eight years where she completed RYA Stages 3&4, Racing and Spinnaker courses.
“I like sailing at Orford because it is quick and easy for me to rig up my Feva and I can go out in my boat whenever I like, and take out my friends too. I am able to sail to Aldeburgh or round the island if I’d like a longer trip. I know the area well and live in the village so to get down to the water to sail is a very short walk or cycle making it convenient. I am also able to use my boat to sail up to Dove Point and stop on the Ness to have picnics etc in the summer.”
Miranda has been an Instructor for one year.
“The joy on kids faces when they master a skill well and grow in confidence as they improve. The importance of being taught well I believe gives people the ability to go out sailing to practice, enjoy their leisure time safely or even take part in racing. Without well established skills in sailing this is not possible to a high degree.
My favourite boat to sail with friends in Orford is an RS Feva XL.
I race regularly – but not so much in Orford anymore.
I love the sense of freedom and the adrenaline of a thrilling sail in strong winds.
My biggest mishap sailing in Orford is either getting rocks stuck in the dagger board slot jamming it halfway in when we went aground on the spit to go swimming in the sea and then couldn’t get the board back down for the sail back OR Having my partner break the spinnaker whilst sailing towards Raydon and being unable to tack due to the sail being caught under the hull round the dagger board and so sailing helplessly towards Aldeburgh.
My best moment sailing in Orford was winning the Feva Cup in the Class racing.
My favourite moment on the water in Orford this year is either the first lovely sail on my Feva with the Spinnaker up flying along OR Sailing Mary’s Orford 10-footer in the strong winds with Hannah.”
21 year old Mads has sailed at OSC since she was about three years old.
“I learnt to sail at OSC. I’ve been an Instructor for five years, but I started helping out on the courses when I was 14.
If you can sail at Orford, you can sail anywhere and you’re never short of generous and supportive people to help you learn.
Teaching people to sail is about making sure they’re comfortable in the boats and on the water. Often they are in the water too! If a student loves sailing or had a fantastic time with us, then we’ve done our jobs, whether or not they’re the most technical, fastest or most competitive.
I would have to say my favourite boat is a Topper, because it’s the first boat I single-handed and I grew up sailing them. A Laser One is probably a more sensible boat, now that I’m not quite so little anymore.
I used to race a fair bit, however I don’t love it in the same way that I love going for a pootle down the river, but I will always do the Instructors race at the Junior Regatta!
I love the relaxation and comfort I get from sailing. I was so young when I learned to sail that it’s second nature to me now and possibly the least stressful activity I can think of, and even in strong winds, it’s just, really good fun.
I’d have to say my biggest mishap sailing was getting my topper stuck under the Lady Flo” (The Lady Florence). “Thankfully she was moored at the time!
There are so many best moments sailing, but my favourite memories are doing the sailing courses at Orford, with Rachael, my best pal and fellow Instructor.
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was seeing Jess, a student who had worked so hard and progressed so much, win the Feibusch Cup! However, to be honest, seeing all the students back out on the water after essentially 2 years without sailing courses made me incredibly proud”.
Louis is 19 years old and has sailed at OSC for fifteen years where he learnt to sail. He has been an Instructor for three years.
“There’s a place for every type of sailor at OSC and there’s no pressure to be the best. It’s an extremely friendly environment.
I love seeing the progress that students make after spending a week on one of our courses. And knowing that they’re having a great time whilst learning is even more rewarding. Being taught properly creates the difference between those who like sailing and those who love it.
I occasionally race and my favourite boat is an RS Feva.
I love the calming effect of sailing. It really clears your head and can always be fun if you want it to be no matter the conditions!
My biggest mishap sailing was getting my mast caught under a yacht after a capsize and my best moment on the water was sailing around the island in the sun on our prelude with a home cooked picnic!
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was sailing down to Aldeburgh and spending the day there on the beach swimming then sailing back at sunset.”
Jacob is 21 and has sailed at OSC for twelve years.
“I was taught to sail at OSC and I’ve been an Instructor for four years.
Everyone is friendly, and it’s a real pleasure to be in Orford.
It is very satisfying to see a person begin to enjoy sailing, and the camaraderie amongst Instructors is lots of fun. As sailing is such a dangerous sport, it’s clearly important that students are properly taught, and we’ve been paid to teach so we’re obliged to do our best.
I race and my favourite boat is a Laser.
I love the freedom and the peace on the water (even when it’s blowing a gale).
My worst moment on the water was turtling a Wayfarer and my favourite moment was the 2018 Sea Race in my Laser, and the exhilaration of sailing over large waves.
The best moment of 2021 was the Mike Pearce cruise and seeing my adult course students sailing competently around the island.”
Hannah is 23 and has sailed at OSC for ten years. Hannah has just completed her seventh year as an OSC Instructor.
“I love it when something about sailing suddenly clicks for a young person and they catch the sailing bug. I think that teaching sailing well is about giving each student a love of being on the water and the skills that they need to get out there by themselves and have fun, whether that’s messing about with friends or racing competitively.
My favourite boat is a Topper but I normally race a Laser.
There’s just something very special about the freedom that comes with being out on the water and getting the most out of a boat.
I’ll never live down the day that I popped Oscar…” (A rib and one of the OSC Safety Boats)
“My best moment sailing was smashing through big waves in a Topper during a very breezy Sea Race.
My best moment of 2021 was when all the kids at the Junior Regatta cheered me on from the pontoon as I struggled in an Oppi against squally winds and a spring tide during the Instructors Race then rushed to find and rig me a Topper so that I could continue after the Oppi’s mast-sprit and tiller extension snapped off.”
19 year old Freddie has been an Instructor for two years and learnt to sail at OSC six years ago.
“The other sailors and people at OSC are very friendly and it’s a very nice and relaxed environment
What I enjoy most about teaching is seeing my students sailing or racing on their own, or really wanting to helm with someone else in the boat. It shows that I made them feel comfortable on the water and that they had a great experience.
I race and my favourite boat is a Hartley.
I love just being able to go out on your own on the water and enjoy the peace and quiet .
I once turtled the boat and got my leg stuck under the toe strap meaning I got stuck under the boat, which was a little bit scary.
My favourite moment sailing was when I completed my Instructor course.
The best part of sailing in 2021 was the whole topper two course as the students learned very quickly and had so much fun on the water. It meant we all had fun and a wonderful time on the water.”
23 year old Charlie has been an Instructor for eight years and learnt to sail at OSC.
“I’ve sailed here all my life and feel like I know the river like the back of my hand. It’s so peaceful and relaxed that you can’t help but love Orford and everything that goes with it.
As an Instructor I love just being able to help.
My favourite boat is a Laser 1. I don’t race but always take part in the Instructors Race.
Being out on the water is so relaxing; you just forget about everything and are in the moment.
My worst moment on the water was snapping my topper mast when sailing in a force 7.
My favourite time sailing was with my grandfather.
The best moment in 2021 was watching my friends’ water ski successfully for the first time!”
22 year old Alex has been an Instructor and sailed at OSC for three years.
“OSC is a fun place to sail where the focus is on having fun (after safety) and enjoying oneself. A very welcoming club.
I enjoy being able to get the kids to a level where they can sail on their own and seeing them having fun. It’s vital they are taught properly as sailing can be dangerous.
I race and my favourite boat is a Laser (4.7 Rig)
I love the quiet joy sailing in good conditions and the challenge of going fast and keeping upright in strong conditions.
My worst moment on the water was not rigging properly and so sailing for a short period without a main sheet and my best sailing was finishing a race in very tough conditions.
My best moment of 2021 was giving 1:1 assessment and passing the whole of my racing course students.”
Willa is 16 and has sailed at OSC for almost ten years where she learnt to sail.
“I started sailing Topper Ones when I was seven.
I became an Instructor this summer but I have been helping on the courses since I was 13 and I think I got my AI at fourteen.
I love the community around iOSC and I think it is a great place to sail. It is also very convenient for me as I live in the village.
I don’t race and I really like sailing small boats like Fevers.
I love being surrounded by the water and nature and I love sailing with another person.
Luckily, I haven’t had too many mishaps but one time my kicker strap snapped and the boom wouldn’t stay on the mast because it was pretty windy so I had to sail without the boom.
My best moment sailing was probably when I saw a porpoise in the river. But some of my other favourite moments have just been sailing up or back down from the spit with friends whilst listening to music.
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was being back teaching the courses having missed 2020 due to Covid.”
Tom is 22 and came to OSC five years ago from our close neighbours, Aldeburgh YC, where he learnt to sail. Tom qualified as an Instructor at OSC four years ago.
“OSC has a great community and family feeling. It is all about having fun and developing your sailing skills.
What I love most about teaching is being able to see my students become comfortable and skilled sailors over the course as well as seeing them have fun whilst learning.
My favourite boat is a Laser with a radial sail.
I race and I love the sense of freedom I get form being on the water.
My biggest mishap sailing was in too strong winds with a full sail. I capsized quite a bit that day, but it was still good fun!
My best moment sailing was doing the Sea Race.
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was enjoying some fun races during the regatta.”
Olly is 18 and learnt to sail at OSC where he has been an Instructor for the last three years.
“Orford has an amazing sense of Community and great spots to camp along the river.
I enjoy getting out on the water with a team of amazing Instructors and seeing students finish the courses wanting to sail more.
The importance of being taught properly is that it’s a safe environment to learn. The skills the students learn are those that the Instructors had to learn themselves. Hopefully our younger students will be inspired to be Instructors too.
My favourite boat is Probably a Nacra 17 if I could afford one. I sometimes race and love the sense of freedom on the water.
My biggest mishap sailing was breaking the dagger board on my Dad’s Wayfarer and my best moment sailing has to be playing pirates on family sailing. We all brought out water guns and capsized each other’s boats.
My favourite moment on the water in 2021 was the students pushing Louis Cooper off the floating pontoon.”