SOMETIMES you visit a place and you just know, from the moment you walk in there, that it’s right. The place is nice, the people are exceptionally kind and the atmosphere conveys a genuine and heartfelt welcome.
Which is exactly what I found when I went along to Weybridge Sailing Club on Saturday to perform the formal opening of the club’s 50th anniversary regatta.
Feeling slightly more than a little self conscious (the most important thing I’ve ever opened in the past has been a tin of Cadbury’s Roses) I bowled up to the club in Walton Lane just before noon and was immediately struck by what a lot of lovely laidback people there were.
Commodore Eric Matthews welcomed me warmly with a glass of wine (I can think of many worse ways to be welcomed) and promptly gave me a tour around the club grounds, which have a remarkable collection of different types of boats – one of the things that makes WSC unique in my experience.
Eric explained: “When we first started, it was very much a sailing club but over the years many different people joined with different types of boats – traditional skiffs, kayaks, canoes and motor boats and they were all welcomed with equal enthusiasm.
“This is a recreational boat club, chipped in treasurer Ian Curtis – we’re not one of those stuffy clubs that are all about wearing the right tie and coming from the right background – our objective is to get people out on the water enjoying themselves regardless of what kind of boat they have.”
Hear, hear, say I – more power to their collective elbows.
Of course it rained through my brief opening speech (well there was half a glass of wine still to be drunk) but it simply didn’t matter because the lovely people at WSC clapped politely anyway and the weekend was clearly going to be enjoyed by all. Well done, Weybridge Sailing Club and here’s to your next 50 years.
And I can’t leave the subject without a sincere thank you to my good friend Doug Myers (he of the amazing paintings fame who I’ve covered before in this column) who kindly volunteered to take photos while I fulfilled my civic duty. Cheers mate.
AND WSC will also be involved – along with two more of our fantastic local sailing clubs – Desborough and Weybridge Mariners – in celebrating the RYA’s Sailing for Gold events that take place just before the start of the sailing Olympics in Weymouth.
‘Push the Boat Out’ on Saturday, July 21 will feature crews from all three clubs formally sailing (and motoring) past the mayors of Spelthorne and Elmbridge and other dignitaries who will take a symbolic salute from the balcony of Weybridge Mariners on Shepperton Lock Island. Get along to the riverside to watch the spectacle, which will take place at around 12.30pm.
It should be a fitting curtain raiser to the excitement of the Olympic contests where there are high hopes that British sailors can bag more than a few medals.