Our 2023 Instructors

Banner 1 Above – RYA Principal Sheena Barrow and Club President James Robinson with our 2023 Instructors

Banner 2 Above – RYA Principal Sheena Barrow and Club President James Robinson with most of our 2023 Instructors, Assistant Instructors & Helpers

Orford Sailing Club RYA Principal Sheena Barrow writes –

Without exception our young instructors have strong connections to Orford and in particular to Orford Sailing Club. Returning together each summer, these individuals quickly become an effective team forming strong friendships through helping and supporting each other. In such a way they are able to deliver the best they can to young and novice sailors.

The RYA method of teaching is well recognised and Instructors are both mentally and physically challenged in order to achieve RYA DI status.

Instructors need other characteristics too. A recent letter of thanks to OSC Training described the team as: exceptional, enthusiastic, engaging and considerate and patient. All of these attributes allow learning to take place.

How often the training team recognise that an extraordinary transformation can take place when students discover the joy of sailing a small boat together with their new found confidence.

I am delighted to be working this summer with our new Chief Instructor, Matt Riley and his OSC team.

Sheena Barrow

Matthew Riley

2023 Chief Instructor

Matt is 20 years old and qualified as a DI in 2019 becoming an SI in 2021. Matt is also a Power Boat Instructor and a Power Boat Safety Boat Instructor.

Matt Riley 2023

“I learnt to sail in Eastbourne 12 years ago and I have sailed at Orford for a year. My favourite thing about sailing in Orford is also being able to go for a cruise and enjoy the more relaxing side of sailing.

When I am teaching sailing, I really enjoy watching the student’s progression and passion for the sport grow as they develop from beginners to sailors able to race competitively and/or pass on their newfound knowledge and experience on to others by qualifying as Instructors themselves.

My favourite boat is the 18 foot skiff as they are the pinnacle of dinghy sailing. I race regularly in Eastbourne, sailing my Laser for many years, and this year I have enjoyed competing in an RS200 on the National Circuit with Miranda Cook.

My favourite moment on the water happened many years ago when I took my Laser out for its first sail the day after I bought it. It was my first time sailing my own boat.

My biggest sailing mishap was in a Dart 16, with Miranda, on a very windy and rough day. The traveller snapped and I had to fix it quickly so that we could tack and not end up on the beach!

My favourite sailing memory is having the perfect sailing conditions in Eastbourne: a good force 4 and flat water and flying downwind, trapezing with the kite up in a Laser 4000 skiff.

My best sailing memory of 2022 is sailing to the spit in Orford to swim in the sea.”

Suzy Cooper

2023 Senior Instructor

It is a pleasure to welcome back our former Chief Instructor Suzy Cooper for the 2023 training season. Suzy is 25 and has sailed with her family at OSC for seventeen years. Suzy was a DI from the age of 16 before becoming the club’s CI for four years.

Suzy Cooper

“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 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.”

Charlie Lewis

2023 Instructor

25 year old Charlie has been an Instructor for ten years and learnt to sail at OSC.

Charlie Lewis

“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”

Madeleine Cooper

2023 Instructor

23 year old Mads has sailed at OSC since she was about three years old.

Madeleine Cooper

“I learnt to sail at OSC. I’ve been an Instructor for six years, but I started helping out on the courses when I was 14.

If you can sail in 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 amount; 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 Instructor’s 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.”

Jacob Kunert

2023 Instructor

Jacob is 23 and has sailed at OSC for fourteen years.

Jacob Kunert 2023

“I was taught to sail at OSC and I’ve been an Instructor for five 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.

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.”

Tom Chin

2023 Instructor

Tom is 24 and came to OSC 7 years ago from our close neighbours, Aldeburgh YC, where he learnt to sail. Tom qualified as an Instructor at OSC 6 years ago.

Tom Chin 2023

“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 courses as well as seeing them have fun whilst learning.

My favourite boat is a Laser with a radial rig. 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.”

Alex Chin

2023 Instructor

24 year old Alex has been an Instructor and sailed at OSC for five years.

Alex Chin 2023

“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.”

Miranda Cook

2023 Instructor

22 year old Miranda has sailed at OSC for ten years where she completed RYA Stages 3&4, Racing and Spinnaker courses before qualifying as a DI 4 years ago.

Miranda Cook 2023

“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 can 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 getting down to the water to sail is a short walk or cycle making it very 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.

I love seeing the joy on kids faces when they master a skill well and grow in confidence as they improve their sailing skills. I believe the importance of being taught well 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. However, this year I have been very much enjoying racing my new boat, an RS200 with my sailing partner Matt Riley and 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 moments sailing in Orford was winning the Feva Cup in the Class racing, sailing up to the Ness in lockdown and swimming with the Seals and sailing in the Ten Footer race on Regatta Day with Hannah (Kunert).

My best sailing memory of 2022 is from my brief stint team racing with Annabel Nash on a session.”

Willa Cole

2023 Instructor

Willa is 18 and has sailed at OSC for almost twelve years where she learnt to sail.

Willa Cole 2023

“I started sailing Topper Ones when I was seven. This will be my third summer as an Instructor, 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 OSC 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, but I really like sailing small boats like RS Fevas. 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.”

Milly McCann

2023 Instructor

Milly is 18 and has sailed at OSC since childhood where she learnt to sail eight years ago. This is Milly’s second year as an Instructor.

Milly Mccann 2023

“I love Orford because it is such a beautiful place to sail, and also quite challenging. It is such a lovely environment with a lovely community surrounding it.

I like watching the children get better and gain confidence because that is what the club allowed me to do and it is amazing to watch others start to love sailing.

My favourite boat is probably a Hartley.  I sometimes race, but not seriously. I love the excitement of going fast and feeling in complete control of my boat.

My biggest mishap actually happened on my DI training course. It was February, very cold and my boat turtled, with me in it, while thethered to the safety boat. The rope snapped and I started to drift down the river holding on to a capsized boat with no rudder. I lost the centreboard and by chance, hit the buoy of the only moored boat on the river. I thought this might stop my boat but the boat actually went over the top and forced me underneath.

My best moment was sailing home from the spit, the sun was setting, and it was beautiful and calm and my favourite moment on the water was winning a race with Ruby Brint. It was such fun as it was quite a tight race in amazing conditions.”

Raffy Hollis

2023 Instructor

Raffy is seventeen years old and has sailed at OSC for nine years where he learnt to sail. Raffy qualified as a Dinghy Instructor last year.

Raffy Hollis 2023

“I enjoy sailing in Orford because there is a sense of community and togetherness and I enjoy the challenging conditions.

I enjoy watching students improve and get more confident in sailing boats whilst having fun.

My favourite boat is a Hartley. I have taken part in OSC Regattas, but I don’t race often, preferring to day sail. I love the peace of sailing on the water.

My biggest mishap was turtling my boat and the mast getting stuck in the mud and my best moment was sailing up wind to the spit with a friend.

A favourite moment on the water was sailing my new Topper Topaz with my Dad.

My favourite sailing moment of 2022 was passing my DI qualification.”.

Matilda Sidel

2023 Instructor

Matilda writes…

Matilda Sidel 2023

“I am 21 and my first time sailing in Orford was the beginners Topper course, so I must have been about 11. Except for Covid I’ve been back pretty much every summer since, first working my way through the courses and then returning as a helper and Assistant Instructor. Last spring I qualified as a DI so this will be my second summer working as a Dinghy Instructor.

I love sailing in Orford because it’s such a friendly and fun-loving club and makes me think of the excitement of first learning to sail. As well as being a beautiful place the sometimes, extreme conditions of mud and tide, really have a social bonding effect.

Teaching over the course of a few days is great as you get to see less confident sailors coming out of their shell. This is often helped by starting with Instructors in boats, then having students sailing together, which means they really understand what’s going on by the time they start single-handing.

My favourite type of dinghy to sail is probably a Feva – they’re easy to manoeuvre whether you’re double or single-handing, while still allowing you some power. I don’t race, but I do love the thrill of tacking quickly upwind when it’s a bit breezy, but not too overpowering.

Over the years there have been too many sailing (mis)adventures to count, but quite a few were concentrated into one really gusty day of instructing a couple of years ago involving a couple of runs aground and a jib spontaneously coming off the boat, but luckily salvaged before going into the water.

My best moments sailing have been getting into a really good groove of teamwork between helm and crew, and more recently refining adapting to the quirks of the tide, although a group of us singing in the powerboat to keep warm when we were little, will always be a close second!”

Daisy Hester

2023 Instructor

Daisy is seventeen and learnt to sail at Waldringfield SC. She became a DI in October 2022 and has been teaching at East Anglian Sailing School on the Orwell. Daisy is getting to know our river and will be sailing on the river regularly before our courses begin.

Daisy Hester 2023

“What I primarily enjoy about teaching is improving people’s confidence on the water. I have found that most of the kids I have taught can be quite nervous after only sailing once before, and it’s really rewarding to be able to encourage them and build on their confidence until they are able to sail comfortably on their own and further develop their skills.

At the moment, I would have to say a Topper is my personal favourite boat, as that’s what I sail the most in, however, I am keen to gain more experience in RS200s and have been sailing in one with a friend at the Royal Harwich and my plan is to continue sailing in one during the school summer term.

Daisy has sailed across the Atlantic Ocean … twice. The return to the UK across the pond was just her and her Dad (her parents sailed round the world before having children), equally sharing the watches.

My favourite moments on the water would have to be the night watches while crossing the Atlantic in 2019. I would be on deck alone for 4 hours between 8-12 and I really enjoyed being able to sail on my own and keep look out. The sky was also incredible as there was no light pollution so it felt like I could see the entire Milky Way.

Our worst moment was probably when the kicker snapped when we were sailing across the Atlantic. My father and I had to fabricate a replacement that would support the boom for the last 300 nautical miles. I think this repair did not last so if I remember correctly, we just sailed with the jib and mizzen.

My best moment sailing last year was at the end of the DI course I was on. We did a series of races and I was very proud to win two out three after a long and tiring week!

Another favourite sailing moment was when I did my DI course in 2022. While all five boats were on a dead run, everyone capsized in almost a synchronised manner and one of the people on my course attempted a dry capsize but ending up sliding down the side of the boat which was hilarious. I also really enjoyed helping out at the East Anglian Sea School during the summer as an assistant instructor, as I gained so much experience with teaching children and helping them achieve their goals.”

Ben Sarginson

2023 Instructor

Ben is an experienced AI and has just qualified as a Dinghy Instructor. He is seventeen years old. Ben has sailed at Orford from very early childhood.

Ben Sarginson 2023

“I learnt to sail in Orford and Alton waters and started to race when I was eleven. What I really enjoy about teaching is being out on the water and passing on my experience and knowledge to the new, young sailors. I also enjoy being in the sun with friends, out on the estuary, having a good time.

My favourite boat is my Laser, but I also like my Dad’s old Wayfarer. I love to race and can get quite competitive. When I was younger, I also did some racing for the RS Tera Eastern Squad.
A favourite moment last year was running down the pontoon with Raffi and taking the Safety Boat to help a sailor.

My biggest mishap is turtling a Wayfarer dead down wind and having to right it on my own.
My favourite sailing memory of 2022 was after a training day when we all sailed to the Ness and I had all my mates on a boat with me.”

Imogen Crossfield

2023 Instructor

We are delighted that 16 year old Immie has just qualified as a Dinghy Instructor and joins our 2023 team.

Imogen Crossfield

“I learnt to sail at Orford Sailing Club nine years ago on Toppers. Sailing at Orford is good as the conditions there are constantly changing, so each sail is never the same. I enjoy teaching as it is good to see students becoming more confident in themselves as they learn new skills.

My favourite boat is a Laser, as they are a very competitive racing class.

I race a Laser 4.7 and I am competing at Laser Nationals in late August.

My favourite moment on the water was my first big competition in Weymouth. There were 125 lasers racing over the weekend and the weather conditions were really challenging with winds up to 32 mph.

My biggest mishap on the water was nearly losing both my daggerboard and rudder during an east Laser training session at Brightlingsea in February. It was really windy and I turtled at sea and luckily managed to get the Laser back up and sorted quickly as the sea was very cold.

My best sailing memory of 2022 was the Orford SC Junior Regatta, where I won the under 17s cup and the parents cup with my Mum.”