Budworth Sailing Club celebrate 70th anniversary

Budworth Sailing Club

Budworth Sailing Club - Credit: Paul Sweeney

Sailors at beautiful Budworth Mere, near Northwich, are hoping to attract new members in their anniversary year. Words by Paul Mackenzie

Roseanne Jayce, Hermione Attfield, Geoff Edwards, Annabel Page and Ryan Hart

Roseanne Jayce, Hermione Attfield, Geoff Edwards, Annabel Page and Ryan Hart - Credit: Paul Sweeney

For 70 years Budworth Mere has provided ideal conditions and a beautiful backdrop for sailors to practice their skills and compete against one another. It started with a group of men from a Manchester sailing club and today there about 350 members – male and female, young and old – but much else has remained the same.

Those original Budworth sailors would be familiar with many of the boats the club now uses and they would still appreciate the unchanging beauty of the mere and although hey would still enjoy the challenge of sailing at Budworth too, even though the club now sails modern boats.

‘If you’re just watching it can look like the sailor is sitting and gently pulling some strings now and then, but it is a test mentally and physically,’ said club member Mark Cleary.

‘While you’re out there you have to think about so many elements – the wind, your boat, your opponent’s boat. It’s easy to learn to sail but experience and practice count for a lot. Some of the best at the club have been doing it for 30 or 40 years but there are handicaps systems which mean younger and less experienced people can compete.’

The club was formed in 1946 when men from the Manchester Cruising Association started sailing on the mere, which sits beside Marbury Country Park a couple of miles north of Northwich town centre. It is said that the founder members used Prisoners of War at Marbury Hall to transport the boats – wooden snipes, two-handed boats about 14 feet long – to the mere from up the road at the Cock o’Budworth where some of them were stored.

These days the boats are kept near the new clubhouse and there are still snipes on the mere, albeit modern versions, alongside many other styles of vessel, but you don’t have to own a boat to join the club, or have a go.

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‘You can b uy a decent dinghy for about £1000 and come sailing but we also have club boats, we don’t expect new members to buy their own boat straight away because we are conscious that the cost can be a barrier to people getting involved,’ Mark added.

‘So long as they can swim, that’s the main thing because you will get wet and the boats do sometimes capsize. We run a range of courses aimed at complete beginners and people who want to improve.’

Club members are out on the water every weekend and on Wednesday and Friday evenings during the summer and offer training for people aged eight and up. Sailors also travel from across the North West, and some from further afield, to take part in events and races at Budworth.

‘We sail on one of the most picturesque meres in Cheshire and we are often complimented on how challenging the sailing can be,’ Mark said. ‘People want to test themselves and I think they like the challenge of doing better than you have before and it is quite exhilarating when the wind picks up.’ w

To find out more about the club, go online to budworthsc.org.uk