A catch-up with Natalie McWilliams
Natalie is a seasonal insturctor at Cumbrae and, in September, became the first female to claim the title of Scottish Windsurf Champion. She’s 21 and currently studying at Aberdeen. She recently took some time out to provide some insight to sportscotland, below:
How did you get into windsurfing?
I got into windsurfing at age 11, when my mum enrolled me in a taster course activity day at our local lake, James Hamilton Heritage Park. On this day, I tried sailing, windsurfing and canoeing but of course fell in love with windsurfing so persuaded my parents to do the Start windsurfing course and from then on I became addicted and went along to the local Team 15 club where I improved and learnt in a fun environment.
What was your experience of sport when you were younger? What were the challenges you faced?
Sport has always been a big part of my live. From very young I was part of swimming club, athletic club, as well as dancing. All of which I got to a reasonable standard with. However, being an outdoors type of girl and loving to be near the sea I took every opportunity to jump to the sport of windsurfing. Windsurfing is sometimes seen as a mainly male dominated sport and it has been great to see more girls within the sport.
What does it mean to you to have become the first female Scottish Windsurf Champion?
It’s so amazing and such an excellent achievement. The weekend consisted of hard conditions and competitors who were on bigger sails and boards than me, making it a challenge to try and beat them.However, that is part of the fun and winning this event has gave me the encouragement and determination to go further and improve my skills.
What transferable skills have you gained, both from competitive sport and being an instructor?
As an Ex Scottish Squad member for several years and being in the British youth squad, I learnt a lot and had the chance to make friends from all over the world. This understanding of how people react and respond has in turn allowed for me to adapt and encourage people intowindsurfing, as an Instructor. It has taught me to participate and work as a team as well as developing leadership skills.
How do you balance training and competing with your studies?
To make sure that my assignments are performed to the best of my ability, I start assignments as soon as they are given, allowing me to spread work over a couple of weeks, rather than crushing it into the last few days before it is due. I have found this is the best way to balance my training and competing with university work.
Why do you think it’s important for girls to be involved in sport and physical activity?
I think it’s important because it helps lead to happier and healthier lifestyle and you can make lots of new friends and learn new skills. Also, physical activity is a good stress buster. Thanks to windsurfing I have also travelled worldwide seeing a variety of places, such as San Francisco, Helsinki and Cesme for example.
What do you think stops some girls from getting active, and what do you think might encourage them? I feel that some feel self-conscious about what other think and I believe no matter what shape, size, appearance and goals you have. You should do everything possible to achieve it, no matter what other people think.
What advice would you have for girls considering taking up a new sport such as windsurfing?
Find a local club or enrol in a course in the many activities offered at the National Centre Cumbrae…but most of all go have fun, go out with others and don’t be afraid to ask and talk to other budding windsurfers. Everyone is friendly and helpful.
NEWS RELEASE on behalf of the SSI Board
SCOTTISH SAILING INSTITUTE BROADENS ITS HORIZONS
As a result of a challenging financial environment, the board of directors of The Scottish Sailing Institute (SSI) has agreed to merge the SSI with the sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae in order to sustain a Scotland wide event resource for the future. The new arrangements will ensure the SSI continues to work closely with RYA Scotland, clubs and classes to provide world class event support through out Scotland.
Utilising the marketing support available through Inverclyde and RYA Scotland, the SSI will continue to seek to bring sailing events to Scotland making the most of Scotland’s naturally varied locations and the world class championship facilities in Largs.
Continued support will include race management training, event consultancy and physical resources to enable clubs all across Scotland to benefit from the world class water sports event management experience held within the SSI. Coordination of race management training will be undertaken by RYA Scotland and will enable more courses to be delivered across Scotland. The physical resources will be accommodated by sportscotland in its facilities at Cumbrae & Inverclyde, in Largs and will be available for hire in 2017.
The SSI Board is confident that these changes will secure the skills, experience and resources of the SSI for the future and will ensure Scotland continues to attract events to our shores.
Quote from John Kent – Principal sportscotland National Centre Inverclyde & Cumbrae:
“The merger is a great opportunity for Scottish sailing to take advantage of the skills & equipment developed over 17 years of operation. By joining the SSI with sportscotland and working closely with RYA Scotland the SSI will be able to offer a truly Scottish service in 2017. sportscotland, Event Scotland and the RYA& RYA(S) will be working closely together to also attract major sailing events to Scotland and Largs. 2017 sees the SSI expanding its horizons for the benefit of Scottish sailing.”
Quote James Allan of RYA Scotland:
“The SSI has been a key element in securing major sailing events for Scotland over the years. I am pleased that the partners have been able to come together and find an arrangement that keeps the core elements of the SSI available for everyone to benefit from and maintains the commitment to Largs as the premier location in Scotland for major national and international sailing events.”
Quote Ewan Macpherson Commodore of Largs Sailing Club:
“Largs Sailing Club looks forward to continuing to work closely with RYA Scotland, sportscotland, the Scottish Sailing Institute, Largs Yacht Haven and other partners, building upon almost two decades of success in the hosting and delivering almost 200 major Scottish, UK and World Championship sailing events. Together with contributions from across Scotland we have forged a world class team with a reputation which extends across the oceans. We look forward to working closely with all of our partners to build upon this success into the future.”
We’re delighted that the dedication and effort put in by Cumbrae’s Tom Thurlow is being recognised at the upcoming RYAs Annual Awards Dinner in January. Tom has been shortlisted for the ‘Official of the Year’ Award.
Congratulations and Good Luck to all the nominees!
For more information visit: http://bit.ly/2gpwDHf
Why not give the gift of a memorable experience at Cumbrae?
Following our initial blog about this back in August, we just wanted to put this up again, as a reminder, as applications close on 1st Dec 2016.
Cumbrae is recruiting three people to join the 19 month The Instructor Development Scheme (IDS) starting in April 2017.
The IDS programme aims to target people who are interested in a career in the outdoors and particular within the watersports sector. Candidates may have reached a stage at which they are ready to move onto the middle tiers of instructor qualifications. Those selected may possibly have gained some work experience at an outdoor centre and hold a couple of basic National Governing Body (NGB) awards such as a paddlesports, dinghy, powerboating, windsurfing and cruising qualifications,. This level of experience and interest is desirable as the awards are pre requirements for the middle tier of instructor awards in all these disciplines. Opportunities are also provided to gain experience within the RYA cruising scheme. The centre is a busy place and a great place to learn and develop. At the end of the training period, trainees will be well qualified.
Duties and Responsibilities As part of the scheme there is a requirement to contribute to the day to day work around the centre (i.e. stores and basic maintenance) as well as staffing the reception desk on a rotational basis. You will be paid an allowance of approximately £6,000 per year from which you will be required to payback 120/month for your basic living expenses, food and accommodation. The standard number of working hours, as part of the scheme, is approximately 19 hours a week. The remaining time should be spent gaining experience, attending courses or shadowing instructors as part of a pre agreed development plan. Occasionally there will be opportunities to undertake paid work on courses (qualifications permitting) so a flexible attitude is important. You will have access to a wide range of free training opportunities worth around £6,000 - £7,000
The scheme will run from 1st April 2017 until 31st October 2018.
You must be available to start from 1st April 2017. If you are not available for these dates due to other commitments, college courses, etc. please do not apply this year. The next scheme will run from 1st April 2018 until 31st October 2019.
Who Should Apply? Applicants must be over 18 years of age. We are looking for responsible individuals with a variety of relevant outdoor interests who will work together during the height of the season as part of a team of six. We will therefore select people based on a balanced team structure of complementary skills and character. In your free time you will be expected to gain experience in order to complete a broad range of NGB training courses in paddlesports, powerboating, sailing, windsurfing and yachting.. The ability to be self-motivated in order to gain experience is an important selection criteria.
From the applications received we will interview 12 candidates, over a 2 day assessment centre. We’ll be recruiting for 3 posts. The closing date for completed applications is 1st December 2016. For an application form please click here .
Unbelievably Cumbrae’s refurbished gym is celebrating it’s FIRST BIRTHDAY already! In the past year we’ve been delighted to welcome many more new members to the gym, as well as continuing to support our members from the past. We’ve had great feedback over this past year and we’ll continue to offer you a great place to workout in over the coming winter months!
So…if you’ve not taken the plunge yet and are looking to ‘tone up’ in time for Christmas, or just want to keep active over winter, then Cumbrae Gym is for YOU! With great PAYG rates, as well as membership options to suit you, now’s the time to email us, pick up the phone or pop into ‘sportscotland Cumbrae’ to get started.
so please call the centre on 01475 530757 to book a slot (n/a to PAYG users). Inductions cost £10 per person.
For more information, visit our gym webpage.
The weekend of 14-16th October was the weekend of Scotland’s largest boat show, held at Inverkip Marina.
An integral part of the show this year was the ‘Get Afloat’ sessions organised by RYA Scotland. Cumbrae was delighted to be asked to be one of the partners delivering these ‘taster’ sessions, with participants able to try out a RIB experience and/or get out for a sail on the centre’s yacht, Santa Vey.
Over the course of the weekend, RYA(S) had over 350 participants enjoy an ‘on the water’ experience, with Cumbrae delivering more than half of these! Cumbrae instructors, Stu and Lisa headed up the RIB rides, whilst Tom and Beckie focused on the yacht sessions. Cumbrae’s Charlotte and Carla were ‘off the water’, talking to those interested in the courses on offer at the centre, as well as helping participants get ‘kitted up’ with buoyancy aids and life jackets. It was a busy, but wholly enjoyable weekend.
To mark its ‘30th year’, the Boat Show got off to a special start, with HRH Princess Anne, patron of the RYA, opening the event this year. Charlotte got the opportunity to talk to Princess Anne about the Island and Princess Anne also talked to Stu and Tom, asking about the ‘taster’ sessions on offer.
Not surprisingly Friday morning flew by and it was soon time to welcome the first participants of the RIB sessions. The first of these were Harvie and Alan, two gentlemen from Bo’ness diving club:
Caught on camera
Before Tom headed out with that first RIB ride, BBC Alba popped over to film us, asking Tom a little more about the RIB (what the centre mainly uses them for etc.) as well as asking Harvie and Alan about what had brought them to the event that day. We were then filmed heading out onto the water, so, ‘watch this space’ to see if Cumbrae ends up on the TV!
After the first session finished, it was back-to-back RIB sessions throughout the day, on the two VSR RIBS Cumbrae had brought to the show. It had been a great start to the weekend really.
RIB rides continued today, with one participant clearly inspired after his experience:
’‘Whoa…I have been out on a rib before but have never actually had a go in the driving seat! Thanks so much! It was great fun!!’‘
Today also saw ‘Santa Vey’ arriving at Kip Marina, in anticipation of the yacht rides taking place during Saturday and Sunday:
Saturday was a busy day both on and off the water, with Charlotte and Carla chatting to many sailing enthusiasts – with visitors seeming to be particularly interested in the ‘Day Skipper Practical’ course offered by the centre. It was also great to hear from so many young enthusiasts, whose interests ranged from junior courses in kayaking, to windsurfing, to dinghy sailing.
A beautiful evening unfolded as Saturday’s events drew to an end:
The weather forecast was rather bleak for the last day of the show, with heavy rain due in the afternoon. However, the morning started off dry and bright and the first of the yacht sessions got underway at 10.30am:
With 5 out of a potential 6 booked onto that slot, Carla grabbed the opportunity to join the group for what was a lovely hour’s sail, which included catching a glimpse of some seals along the way.
In chatting to the group, Carla found out that a couple of the ladies on this yacht session had completed courses at Cumbrae a few years ago (RYA Day Skipper and RYA Coastal Skipper), back then on the ‘Sun Odyssey 36’ yacht so they were delighted to be trying out the ‘Salona 38’ this time around. Jeanette, one of the ladies from this group, commented:
’‘Absolutely fabulous - loved every minute of it! Thank you.”
Also on-board with us was Laura, the news and website editor for ‘Practical Boat Owner’. Laura is based down south, near Dorset and was embracing the opportunity to leave the PBO stand at the show for a short spell and enjoy some sailing on Scotland’s west coast. She was really taken by how quiet the waters are in this part of the world:
During the sail, we also came across Lisa and her RIB group out enjoying themselves:
Multi-talented Cumbrae Instructors
Unfortunately, the poor forecast came to fruition so, in between sessions, Stu took the opportunity to entertain visitors with his juggling skills!
The poor weather didn’t put participants off though as the ‘taster’ sessions continued throughout the afternoon. Someone took to Facebook later that night to say that they had come off the RIB ‘soaked but happy!’
Actually, those on the last of the sessions got rather lucky as the day turned into a rather settled and calm evening:
After all the sessions had ended, it was time for Lisa and Stu to refuel the RIBs for their 30min journey back to the centre. At this point a lady and her family, who had been on one of the RIB rides earlier that day, commented:
“Is that you getting ready to head back now? Oh, I’m jealous…wish I could come back in the RIB with you!”
It was so encouraging to hear such enthusiasm, from someone who’d obviously ‘caught the bug’. It was especially nice to hear that her young son had been very apprehensive about going out on the RIB but had come off saying how much he enjoyed it. The whole family, as it turns out, were keen to get involved in a course in the future.
It really was the perfect way to end what had been a fabulous few days, and remembering such enthusiasm will keep us all buoyant as the winter nights start challenging our spirits out on the water!!
Cumbrae has one Laser Pico left for sale. Details are as follows:
Each boat has mainsail trolley and jib sail.
The below is an account of how Cumbrae’s Marketing Manager, Carla Fugaccia, got on during a weekend’s Powerboating course.
The weekend of the 17-18th September was the weekend I was due to do an ‘RYA Powerboat Level2’ course. This was part of an initiative to encourage office-based staff out onto the water, in order to gain a real customer experience. This suggestion was put forward at the start of the season when it seemed like there was endless time to choose a course to sign-up for. Of course the busy summer season came and went in a flash and it was then that I realised I really had better get myself onto one of the courses ASAP. So far I had ‘let the side down’, with Clare already taking part in ‘RYA Powerboat Level2’, Kirsty doing the ‘Dinghy Sailing Try-a-Day’ and Nancy completing the ‘RYA Sea Survival’.
Saturday 17th September
The weekend got underway at 9.30am with myself and the 3 other participants (Craig, Zac and Graham) meeting at the centre for our course introduction. Our instructors for the weekend, Tom and Stu, introduced themselves to the group, outlined what the weekend would cover and of course gauged the level participants were at. As someone who has only ever been a passenger on a powerboat I knew this would be a sharp learning curve and I was starting to feel a little bit nervous. I needn’t have been. The course flowed at a good rate, with plenty of hands-on practical experience, mixed in with a little classroom work. There was plenty of time to absorb information, as well as ample time to ask questions and go over areas that perhaps needed a little more attention. Moreover, it was fun, A LOT OF FUN in fact. Below is diary of how the weekend unfolded.
We were kitted up with oilskins, wetsuit boots and buoyancy aids before heading out to what was a gloriously sunny September day. The water was flat calm so, so far, so good! I was already feeling rather lucky as my colleague Clare had experienced rather challenging conditions during her course a few weeks back. It seemed like I was going to be eased in much more gently. Perfect.
The morning started with a look over the RIBs. We identified where certain things are kept on the boats and best practice concerning what to check first before heading out (does the boat have fuel?...are there keys?...a kill cord?... making sure there are no rogue lines, the VHF is on etc.). We were going to be using 2 different types of RIBs over the weekend so we got a chance to look over both.
After we heard about the importance of wearing the kill cord at all times we headed out onto the water, with myself and Zac heading out with Tom, whilst Craig and Graham were under the guidance of Stu.
After a quick demo from Tom, we were ‘straight into it’, practicing wide turns in both directions, then smaller turns, then moving on to manoeuvring around buoys and figure of 8’s (in both a forward and backwards direction). It was a ‘baptism of fire’ and I was loving it! We were soon onto practising berthing the RIB and even tried ‘holding off’; where we attempted to get very close to the buoy with touching it.
Suffice to say we had achieved a lot on the first morning! It was time for lunch but first we retired back to the classroom for a quick ten minutes to regroup and for a few suggestions on what pages to read in our ‘RYA Start Powerboating’ book (just a couple of pages to help with the afternoon’s activities).
Since things had gone well in the morning, Zac and I headed back out on the RIB with Tom towards Largs Marina. Here we practised lots of exercises to help us get comfortable with berthing between boats on the pontoon:
The temperatures had started to increase and it was now a lovely late summer’s day. The boats on the marina glistened in the sunshine. One such boat was the centre’s ‘Santa Vey’, which had crew out on a ‘Close Quarter Manoeuvring’ course. It was great to have the vantage point from the RIB as we watched ‘Santa Vey’ being manoeuvred carefully around the marina:
It was then time to try a 3-point turn, after a demo from Tom first. Again all went well:
After a couple of ‘goes’ at berthing in tighter spaces, with the boat tied on at one end, it was then time to have a look around some of the boats in the marina. By now, not only was it still very sunny, it was really warm too so it was definitely time to remove oilskin jackets for the afternoon. Tom took all four of us around the marina, explaining the different types of propellers on various boats, as well as different hulls (pointing out the different ‘chines’ on the hulls) and identifying which boats would fair better in open seas. This really was an education!!
After this, it was time to get back to the boat, where we practised leaving the pontoon in a confined space. We then tested ourselves with some more berthing manoeuvres before heading full-speed back to centre!
Again we regrouped back at the classroom for a quick demonstration of knots. Our homework for the night was to try tying various knots and to read a couple of key pages from our handbook.
With it being such a beautiful evening it was lovely to be able to sit and relax outside the centre, reading in the sunshine, with birdsong for background ‘music’. Stunning:
After dinner, I got practising on the knots (never thought I’d ever say that!). I had the ‘reef knot’, ‘sheet bend’ and ‘clove hitch’ nailed but the ‘bowline’ was giving me headaches. It was time to ‘rope in’ (sorry!) Sam, who was ‘on-call’ in the office, for another ‘bowline’ demo.
Time to retire for the night and, unsurprising, I slept like a log!
Sunday 18th September
After breakfast, the day got started with a quick discussion back in the classroom, this time looking at rescuing a man overboard (MOB), as well as a quick introduction to anchoring.
Once we were in our oilskins again were headed out to practise on the water. There was a little bit more wind this morning but generally another fair start to the day.
Again Zac and I headed out with Tom and after a quick demo of rescuing a MOB it was time for us to try. My first attempt would probably have resulted in the MOB being run over, rather than rescued, but I quickly got the hang of it, as did Zac, and it was really interesting to be carrying out such an important, practical, exercise. I definitely have a newfound admiration for those doing this exercise ‘for real’.
After we were comfortable with the MOB exercises, it was time to try more ‘holding off’ exercises - with attempts being a little different today due to the windier conditions.
We then moved on to ‘reverse berthing’ at the pontoon. Tom broke this down into its component parts and, surprisingly, this was fairly easy to achieve. Of course Tom made us both do the exercise a few times to make sure our successful attempts hadn’t been a fluke! Now seemed like a good opportunity to get out of the boat to take some photos of Zac for his Duke of Edinburgh portfolio:
Whilst this was going on, the other group were busying practising ‘picking up a mooring buoy’ and they seemed to be having a lot of success with that:
Now came the time to practise anchoring so we headed round to ‘White Bay’, the northernmost tip of the island. Here we met up with the other members of the group as Stu was carrying out an anchoring exercise with Craig and Graham. In the classroom that morning we had learned that a mixed ‘chain + rope’ anchor requires the anchor line to be 6 times the depth, so, after we did a few sums, we let out the required amount of line and checked we were stationary, using fixed points:
With the anchoring exercise having gone well, it was now time to turn our attention to towing. We moved closer to the other boat for a demo of towing ‘best practice’ and then we each had a ‘go at the wheel’. After Zac and I had had our turn we swapped boats with the other group, enabling them to tow us for a while:
After the towing exercise, we separated again and headed back to the centre for lunch. The trip back to the centre in itself was another learning point as, since we were still in the other group’s RIB, we got a feel for the various nuances of different RIBs…the difference in sensitivity of the throttle, the throttle position, seat positioning, ignition location etc.
Once back at the centre, we had a quick classroom discussion before lunch. This time we discussed ‘Collison Regulations’ (what vessels should you ‘give way’ to etc.). We also watched a video showing a powerboat capsizing and the importance of not being complacent as you can easily be ‘caught out’.
After lunch it was back to the classroom for some chart work - such passage planning being crucial to safe travel and since we were heading off to circumnavigate the island later that afternoon we needed to get the basics right first. Our instructors suggested a route to take around island and thereafter we plotted direction, distance and timing, based on our RIBs travelling at 20knots. This was a teamwork exercise, or more accurately, an exercise in the team helping me out (!), as most had some experience in this area and I was rather lost!
Before long we had charted out our route and so it was time to head back out to the RIBs to put our plan into practice. The weather had now deteriorated as the winds were stronger and it was now raining. However, we all agreed that this was beneficial to us, giving us a truer ‘taste’ of things and different challenges to deal with.
Zac and I started out well, then a few little errors in our chart work stated to appear…we realised we had one of the angles very wrong when we were pointing straight to the shoreline! Still, it was a good lesson in getting bearings from what’s around you rather than what’s written down. We decided on a course to take and headed off again. There was a bit of difficult decision making as we tried to judge the line to take to get us into Millport. Tom’s advice on what to line up with in the distance helped us out here. Once we got near to Millport, we tried a couple of mooring buoy exercises.
It was now time to head away from Millport and continue the circumnavigation. Some local knowledge from Tom helped us avoid potentially dangerous rocks as we made our way out. We successfully followed the notes from our chart work and before long we were on the last stretch back to the centre, with Zac and I each having a chance to have a final shot in the ‘driving seat’:
After we had de-robed from our oilskins, it was time to meet back in the classroom for a final debrief. We were all delighted to have passed and were given our certificates, which Tom explained last a lifetime.
All that was left to do was to thank Tom and Stu for their fantastic (and patient) instruction over the weekend, hand in our ‘feedback’ forms and make a sprint for the ferry off the island! Zac, Craig, Graham and I were all on the same ferry so more ‘debriefing’ followed, with us all agreeing that we had gained a lot from the weekend and had had a great deal of fun along the way.
It was then time for farewells and I promised to email the group with some photos taken over the weekend. These guys were a lovely bunch to spend the weekend with, and Zac, as my fellow crew member, had the patience of a saint!
In choosing this course, I had challenged myself with a fairly intensive 2 days, however the fantastic tuition made it all very manageable. I’m absolutely sure that it won’t be long before I’m signing-up for another course as this was a truly exhilarating weekend, one that I’d repeat in a heartbeat!
If you’re feeling inspired, the next RYA Powerboat Level2 course is running on the 15-16th October this year. If you have previous experience there’s an RYA Intermediate Powerboat running on 1-2 October and an RYA Advanced Powerboat on 19-20 November.
Now I’m left thinking about what to sign-up for next…?