[from the TCYC Newsletter Issue 2]
We met Jane for an informal chat on a stormy day at the Eastcliff clubhouse. One of the days where one is grateful for the invention of good double glazing.
Jane’s sailing story starts when she was just 4 years old…
Q: How did you first get into sailing?
A: My father was foreman of the shipyard here in Teignmouth and he always had sailing boats. On one Teignmouth Regatta he needed a crew for a Mayfly, and at the age of 4, I was the only option! By the age of 8 I had learnt to sail and was given an Enterprise when I was 11. A few years later, I had a Kestrel, one of the early fibreglass boats.
With a friend, I used to sail several local regattas in one day. But without a road trailer, our only option was to set off from Shaldon with the launching trolley secured across the transom and sail to Brixham, then Paignton then Torquay and race at each place, before returning home. The Optimist, Laser 420 route didn’t exist in those days, and girls in racing were a complete anomaly. Interesting times.
Q: What is your experience of being a female sailor, at a time when this was unusual?
A: The attitude to women sailing used to be very different. On one occasion, I recall the guys chucking my boat down the slipway and letting it drift around Torquay harbour!
But now it’s so different. It’s better for girls coming up through the squads. There are more women sailing. I can understand, if you are not used to the way a boat handles, it can be daunting. But the rougher and more windy it is, the more I enjoy it, I enjoy the challenge. So we are trying to encourage more woman and girls to get into sailing. There are a lot of female partners in the club who would like to get into boats but feel intimidated by their male partners. So we are having some girls nights social events, which we hope will result in some of them at least getting on the water.
Q: How do you see TCYC thriving in the future?
A: We did a big open day and membership drive last year, which resulted in a lot of new members joining. Many of these new members have already volunteered to do jobs within the club – anything from IT to helping behind the bar, to organising social events to refurbishing boats. So this new wave of younger members is great for putting new energy into the club.
For the club to survive, we have to look long term (5 – 10 years ahead).
The long-term members of the club really enjoy having the younger members coming in and passing on their knowledge and skills. It brings a new vitality to the club. We also have a need for these younger members to learn how the club is run. There is a lot of admin work that goes on behind the scenes that many members are unaware of. So its crucial that we bring in new people to work alongside and learn from existing club members that hold official roles.
The very committed members are the foundation stone for the club and they are generally very supportive of everything that we do. They are also a friendly group. The social side is the glue that holds that club together.
Q: How do you see the club uniting both clubhouses?
A: The physical split between Coombe Cellars and Eastcliff club houses does pose its own challenges – but we are working hard to bring both clubhouses together as one club, and there are a number of members who come to both clubhouses and participate in both dinghy and keel boat sailing.
Q: How has the social scene changed at Eastcliff clubhouse?
A: Eastcliff has been through some sticky times when there wasn’t a lot going on and not many people coming, and now we feel we are moving forward. Now, we can get at least 40 people here midweek, every week, even on a winter’s night. We’ve put on a full programme – Friday night talks, Gin-o-clock, quiz night (we had 8 teams), 60 people for Burn’s Night with a piper, and 60 people at Race Night.
Q: What does racing mean to you?
A: I learnt a lot more about sailing in a small boat, a dinghy with wind and tide effects than in bigger boats.
Regular racing does bring about momentum and incentive to get out on a regular basis and improve on skills. That’s what its about for me – not just the taking part but the competitive element for honing skills! That’s just the way I am. I like to get out there and make the boat as fast as I can and get round the course as fast as I can, and ideally, win! I can’t just sit there and go out for a trundle.
Q: Why are you standing down as President?
A: I’m going to stand down because I feel I’ve done that. I’ve been Social Committee, Social Chair, Vice Commodore and Commodore, and then President (which I’ve done for 3 years). I feel I need to make room for other people in the club who can take over and put their slant on it. I can probably achieve more now from being on the ground. I need to spend more time bringing forward new people to help with the club.
Q: What could we do more of at the club?
A: Fun sailing could be developed. We could do boat treasure hunts or picnics, for example. We need to support more of a social community for people of all ages. We’d like to get the Cork out at weekends for fun sailing. There needs to be more social interaction, not just racing, at both club houses. It takes more people to organise these things. So it was great getting more members to come in with the membership drive – it gives us a bigger pool of people to volunteer to do things. This club has huge potential.
Q: What drives you to do everything you do?
A: Being President has meant that there has been a lot to do to sort out the social side, but my heart is always on the water On the water is where I love to be – and I want to get more girls and women out on there too. My challenge throughout life has been to win, but on the way to winning to enable other people to enjoy it. I want the club to succeed with a passion. I’ve put so much into it. I will always fight hard for the club as a whole. But I want other people to feel they are enjoying the ride.