A return to sailing on Lochmaben’s Castle Loch is on the cards, as Annandale Sailing Club launches its plans for the 2021 season.
The club’s new Commodore Elaine Ross explained that although Coronavirus restrictions meant the normal high levels of activity couldn’t yet resume, she was optimistic that a programme of racing and training would be possible later in the year.
“We are complying with the guidelines set out by the Royal Yachting Association, our governing body, with the main restriction just now being that we can’t launch and man a rescue boat, and therefore provide effective safety cover for all levels of sailor, due to social distancing rules.
“We can, however, take advantage of the opportunity for up to 15 people taking part organised non-contact outdoor exercise which means our more experienced, self sufficient members can now go out sailing, conditions permitting.”
The club lost much of its 2020 season due to the pandemic, although it did manage to offer some virtual training sessions online and some informal sailing and low-key racing for members later last summer and autumn when restrictions lifted.
“It’s been a challenging time,” said Elaine, who lives in Lochmaben and has been a member of ASC for seven years, “but we are grateful to our loyal members who continue to support the club.”
Access to the clubhouse, its kitchen, changing facilities and training rooms, has not been permitted since the start of the pandemic last March and members are looking forward to a new look base when they return, with the addition of a loch-facing extension, which is currently under construction.
“We wanted to provide a new, more accessible, all-weather viewing area, which will also create valuable extra space for training,” said Elaine.
“It will also allow our existing clubroom to open out onto a viewing terrace offering a birds-eye view of the sailing.”
The extension has been funded with help from the Annandale & Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC).
Elaine learned to sail as a child in the Lake District before coming to Dumfries & Galloway 35 years ago, working for the health service. She is a qualified senior sailing instructor and has also been a member of Kippford-based Solway Yacht Club for many years.
“I love that Annandale Sailing Club is at the head of a heart-shaped loch, and feel it would be wonderful if it was also at the heart of the community,” she said. “Although we are a sailing club, we are here for anyone to enjoy this lovely environment.
“Although we don’t offer specific sessions or training for kayakers and paddle boarders, they are welcome to join to take advantage of our safety cover and enjoy our lovely clubhouse and social events.”