Ah well, we were all ready to hit the road. The snow had been shovelled away from the van, drysuits were packed, tire chains fitted, snow goggles and skis bought just in case, but in the end Rutland sailing club cancelled the Tiger trophy, and I have to say, we were hugely disappointed. Or not.
I’ve sailed at the Tiger trophy a few times, once in the 29er and once in the 49er. Sure, it’s the first big event of the year, and it’s great to catch up with the other sailors, but there’s something that always makes me want to avoid it, not for the sailing or for the competition, but for the place. Although I’ve sailed there many times, I’m not a huge fan of Rutland. Sure, the sailing area is great, the club house is nice and the sailors I know are awesome, but after sailing there too many times to count I have very quickly got sick and tired of the welcome, or lack of, from the “gate keepers”. I’m sick of sitting at the gate’s intercome trying to explain who I am and why I dare to bother them. It shouldn’t matter that I’m not a member, in fact, they should welcome non-members with open arms. Furthermore, every single time I’ve been there I’ve been sailing with or coaching a member, but that has never detered them from interogting me at the gates whilst cars behind waited to get in. They even once told me to turn around and try Grafham water sailing club, and yes, to reverse my van and two 49ers back up the single lane mud track, past the other queing cars to get off their property. How the hell do they ever get new members if they treat new faces (or new voices thanks to their stupid intercom) like they are dirt?
I have no issue with clubs like Grafham water sailing club having a man on the gates, so long as he is there to tell people where to park and to help out. It’s a joke when a club is locked down tighter than Alcatraz, just in case a non member dares to trespass. We’re in a small industry where companies need to welcome every single individual who expresses interest in joining in, or even in having a coffee in their canteen. I wonder how many prospective sailors have been scared off by Rutland (and other locked down sailing clubs) with their almost xenophobic behavior.
The funny thing is, once inside I’ve found the staff of Rutland to be friendly and helpful, I just wish they dropped the intercom and opened themselves up to outsiders.
On a side note, at Oxford sailing club they have on their front doors possibly the most confusing sign I’ve seen. I don’t have a picture, but I have it memorised: