by Des Ryan
Australia's Lake Eyre Yacht Club has been famous for years among certain leisure sailors on account of the fact that it is almost 800 kilometres from the sea, and it hardly ever has water - if you are lucky, about one year in three. But stranger still is the yacht club just formed in Britain, about 110 miles from the sea and there's not a sailable stretch of water any closer.
Lake Eyre Yacht Club - water only about every three years
Chipping Norton has always been popular among the hunting and shooting set in the area, but the idea of forming a yacht club without any water is more bizarre even than the Lake Eyre Yacht Club.
Apparently, according to the founding members, Chipping Norton Yacht Club is being launched to give sailors a chance to socialise without having to travel to the coast. Undeterred by its landlocked position, sailing enthusiasts in the area are busily planning.
Organisers have reported a 'surprisingly keen interest'. Trevor Taylor, whose idea it was, said more than 100 people had expressed an interest in joining, despite the fact the town is miles from the coast, 700 feet above sea level and does not have a dinghy park or river frontage.
Chipping Norton - the yacht club is 110 miles from the sea
He said: 'We're on a hill so this is the last place you'd expect to find a yacht club – unless the polar ice caps melt and Chipping Norton's market square becomes a harbour.'
Mr Taylor added: 'Many Cotswold locals sail on the south, east and west coasts or overseas but, until now, there's been no local yacht club where those interested in boating can meet without having to embark on a two-hour journey to The Solent or longer to east or west coast ports.'
The sailing club, which is expected to open in the coming months, is seeking affiliation with the Royal Yacht Club.
It is to be aimed at holiday sailors as well as those more serious participants, so if your journeys take you anywhere near the Cotswolds any time soon, there'll be a welcome mat out. You can bet the stories around the bar will be wilder than ever, seeing they can't be disproved.