WHETHER you like to sail through life or go at it hell for leather, sailing could be the sport for you.
That is the advice of Magdalen College School (MCS) pupil Joe Gough, captain of England’s top youth team.
And with his sailing club planning a £24,000 expansion of its sailing lake, this could be a good time to jump on board.
Mr Gough, 17, from Shillingford, said: “If you do it competitively you get the adrenaline rush, and the satisfaction of beating your opponents.
“It is a good way to keep fit but it is also a great way to meet an eclectic mix of people.”
His team, the MCS first six, came first in the Royal Yachting Association’s Eric Twiname youth team racing championships in September 2012 at Farmoor Reservoir.
“Team racing,” he said, “is a mix of tactics – which are not used so much in Olympic Fleet racing – and speed, which is.”
Unlike fleet and match racing, team racing is not yet an Olympic sport, but Mr Gough is longing for the day.
The rising star learnt to sail at the Dorchester Sailing Club.
He and his dad, Keith Gough, signed up together six years ago.
Mr Gough, 59, takes a slightly different approach to sailing. I am very much a ‘point-it and hope to go in the right direction’ kind of sailor,” said club chairman Mr Gough. “Like with horse riding you can go at it hell-for-leather every week or just do it for leisure.”
The club is planning to expand the sailing area on its lake thanks to a £24,000 grant from Sport England.
By taking out dead tree stumps from the fringes of the old gravel pit and levelling the surface beneath, the club can increase the sailing area by 20 per cent.
In the past, people wanting to learn sailing have had to be turned away because of lack of space.
Now, more groups will be able to sail at a time.
Mr Gough said: “It is all very exciting.
“We have a really good group of volunteer instructors for sailing training.
“Last year we trained 60 children and about 12 adults to sail.”
The club’s 500 members, aged from eight to 80, mostly share family membership for two adults and children under 18.
Members sail on dinghies under 16ft long, and new members are welcome to rent boats to see what suits them.
A small Optimist dinghy, popular for learning on, can cost upwards of £200.
The club holds handy cap racing, where boats of all classes race together but a formula is used to level the scores and find the best sailor- not the best boat.
There are also clubs in Oxford, West Oxfordshire and Banbury.
To learn more go to dorchestersailingclub.org.uk