Annandale Sailing Club’s 2023 season is off to a flying start, with a new Commodore at the helm. Stephen Thomas Bate, from Dumfries, is the Club’s first disabled Commodore, who took up dinghy sailing, after first visiting the Lochmaben-based club ten years ago.
“I discovered the club in 2013 at a ‘Day of the Region’ event,” he said. “I had never sailed before, nor ever had the opportunity to sail. Everyone was very welcoming. I was taken out in a GP14 dinghy and loved it so much, that I joined the club on the same day.”
Stephen has FSHD Muscular Dystrophy and now sails a single-handed Challenger trimaran, which are designed not to capsize: “My walking is deteriorating but thankfully, I do not need my legs to sail my Challenger, Skean Dhu Too.
“I love to sail when we have strong wind, as I cannot capsize. It is like a regular dinghy, but with stabilisers.”
Stephen was a keen pot-holer in the past, and more recently, a scuba diver. He said sailing provided a great opportunity to keep active and make new friends.
Stephen recently organised Annandale SC’s first open event for disabled sailors, in conjunction with Sailability Scotland SCIO.
“It is a privilege to become the first disabled Commodore at Annandale Sailing Club. I have a fantastic team of committee members to support and guide me, many of whom have been past Commodores.”
The Club has a busy programme of racing and training throughout the season and has close ties to the community, with the recently extended clubhouse hosting some community groups.
Stephen is keen to see more new members of all ages get involved. He said: “It’s particularly great to see our junior members flourish as they grow in confidence. They develop practical skills that will serve them well as they move into adulthood.
“I would love to see this group grow as these sailors are the future of our club.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the club, and the sport, will be welcomed warmly to the annual Open Day on Saturday, June 3 from 12 noon until 4pm.