From swimming to sailing

Whilst many swimmers come down to swim only, some have seen how wonderful the club is and what we have to offer, we have had 5 full memberships this year from Open Water Swimmers. In addition nearly 20 Notts County members are open swimming and taking advantage of the Notts County SC Members discount (see here for details) to allow them to swim in safety at a reduced rate.

Earlier in the year Rachel Repper and her son Fred came down to open water swim. Over the last couple of months the swimming has developed into a love of the other watersports at the club, the family where using the SUP (to start with) then Windsurfing and dinghy sailing have featured. This is her story in her own words.

Open water swimming which started it all

“2021 is feeling very different for The Repper family, thanks to Notts County Sailing Club.  My husband Dean and I both work in healthcare, so 2020 was very challenging, with virtually no family or downtime.  Having first visited NCSC at the beautiful Hoveringham location in 2010, with a charity supporting children from Belarus affected by Chernobyl, I had always wanted to visit again. So, in early April, as working life started to return to normal, I booked our son Fred and I in for a session with ‘Love Open Water Swim’ at NCSC small lake.  The swim was wonderful, but what really caught our eye was the mix of activities on the big lake. 

Boats, Kayaks, SUPs were out, and then we saw the windsurfers speeding across the lake, and the thrilling looking Hydrofoil flying along.  As very keen skiers and snowboarders, windsurfing looked like a sport Fred and I would relish.  When we got home and found we could take windsurfing courses at NCSC.  It then transpired that Dean, who had taken the Dinghy Sailing RYA 1 course 3 times (!) over a 30 year period, wanted to get back into a boat.

Rachel using her SUP

We came for a visit in April, met a whole host of welcoming committee members including Ross and Kathryn, and signed up to Family Membership the same day.  The ‘Works and Ways’ volunteer day on 24 April saw us cleaning and digging holes, getting to know more members and understand more about members commitments, as well as what the club had to offer.  Our next visit was in our motorhome, for a blissful May Bank Holiday overnight and paddle in our Kayak & SUP.  It was incredible to wake up at dawn, to the mist rising from the lake, surrounded by wildlife and stunning scenery.

Over the June half term Fred and I completed the RYA windsurfing course run by Tom and Russ, and Dean took the RYA dinghy sailing with Nick.  We all had brilliant fun with super instructors and students

Rachel taking our RYA Windsurfing course in June

As we were staying for the week in our motorhome, we signed up for Thursday Sailing Race night duties.  Fred and I learnt the role of Race Clerk on the job, thanks to John and Kim, with the unexpected bonus of Fred deciding the sailing looked really exciting and he now wanted to learn to sail.  This was a complete turnaround, as he was previously adamant that he didn’t want to sail.  So, Race Night Duties was the best thing we could have done, and Fred is taking RYA 1 Dinghy course in August, and can’t wait to get sailing! “

Dean taking our RYA Dinghy course in June


What seems to be a real difficulty for novice graduates of RYA Dinghy sailing courses, is carrying on sailing after the course, if you’re not from a sailing family. However, this time, thanks to helpful club members and NCSC, Dean has been given access to a boat for the year, in return for a donation towards the upkeep of the club boats.  This means he can continue sailing, and hopefully won’t be taking his RYA 1 for a 5th time!  Of course, the benefit is family wide, with Fred looking forward to getting into the Laser once he has finished his course too.


“In the meantime, after joining us for an alfresco motor home dinner, my stepson Barney has also joined as a member of NCSC, and is on the Tuesday evening windsurfing course too.  So as a family we are at Hoveringham several times a week.  Dean to sail on a Tuesday night with the novice members, whilst Barney is on his windsurfing course.  On Wednesdays Fred, Barney and I borrow the club windsurf kit and practice our skills.  Finally, on a Sunday Fred is completing his Duke of Edinburgh Silver by volunteering with Love Open Water, and doing his D of E ‘Physical Activity’ with a 1.5km swim that I join him in.


It has been a wonderful 2 months since we joined NCSC and amazing to have access and enjoy such a range of activities.  It’s thrilling to learn new sports and skills, and who knew that learning to be a Race Clerk could be transformational for a 15 year old (I really loved it too!).”

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