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New clubhouse for South Windermere Sailing Club

by Mark Fearnley 5 Feb 2017 01:22 PST 3 February 2017
The new clubhouse at South Windermere Sailing Club © SWSC

After over 4 years of planning and negotiations, construction has now started on a new clubhouse and changing facilities at South Windermere Sailing Club.

SWSC was set up in 1961 at its beautiful location in Fell Foot park at the south end of Lake Windermere. Soon afterwards its current wooden 'shack' of a clubhouse was built by the club members. The shack was certainly never expected to last 50 years, and it has been patched up again and again by dedicated members, and has remained useable despite being repeatedly flooded and condemned for public use.

The old clubhouse was always a measure of the non-elitist approach to sailing that is still evident today. The basic facilities have never held back the club's ethos of being family friendly, with a keen focus on racing. Well known members from the past include John Derbyshire (Ex UK Olympic team Manger & Ben Ainslie's coach), Richard Stenhouse, Steve Goacher, and Ian Dobson.

Development of the club's facilities has historically been limited by the fact that the base in Fell Foot is owned by the National Trust, and the club operates under a licence agreement. The National Trust is now embracing the club as part of its Fell Foot project, to make more of this fantastic location. The Fell Foot project incorporates several phases to develop facilities in the park, and phase 1 is the construction of the new Watersports centre, which will be used by SWSC as its new clubhouse.

The new facilities are being jointly financed by the National Trust and Sport England, and will be used along with other watersports users: primarily rowing and open water swimming.

It has been a long and sometimes difficult negotiation with the National Trust, which included help for the club from the RYA (thanks to Adam McGovern). In addition members have been sceptical that it would ever happen, and have a real affection for the old lake-side shack. However, the future of SWSC is now assured, with not just a new clubhouse and changing facilities, but improved launching facilities and boat parking.

Construction is expected to complete in October 2017. SWSC will continue to operate a full racing calendar this year (racing every Saturday and Sunday), and can continue to use the current clubhouse and changing rooms. In fact the last thing on the plan will be a ceremonial demolition of the current clubhouse.

Once up and running in the new facilities (which will include under-floor heating in the changing rooms), the club will for the first time offer an open winter series in February and March 2018.

The club has fleets of FFs and K1 keelboats, a mixed handicap of dinghies including Lasers, Streakers, Blazes etc, along with a variety of club owned boats for members use. The sailing programme includes kids teaching and coaching sessions, adult coaching, class racing, handicap racing, weekend cup days, a variety of long distance races, and the clubs keynote open event, the Waterhead, racing the full length of Windermere and back. See for more details.

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