Burwain Sailing Club: Ship-shape and anchors away for Lancastrian sailing club looking to make a big splash

Established in 1951, Burwain Sailing Club is one of Lancashire’s finest.
Members of Burwain Sailing ClubMembers of Burwain Sailing Club
Members of Burwain Sailing Club

Sat on Lake Burwain in Foulridge, the club offers people the chance to learn how to sail and race whilst also taking part in various leisure activities such as club regattas throughout the year.

Run by its members, the club is open to novice sailors and experienced seafarers alike, even running a junior section for up-and-coming sailors called the Sailfish Club.

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“I came to sailing completely new in my 30s and have done it ever since,” explains Catherine Dobson a member of the club since 1990. “It’s such an engaging and absorbing activity and your life revolves around it!

Catherine Dobson, who has been a member of the club since 1990Catherine Dobson, who has been a member of the club since 1990
Catherine Dobson, who has been a member of the club since 1990

“When you’re sailing, you’re focused on the activity, so it’s a good escape as well as being an interesting pastime and a good way to form a new social group.

“When my children were little, we decided to learn to sail because it was a safer alternative to mountain climbing and bike touring, which is what we usually did,” adds Catherine, who is in her 60s and lives in East Lancashire. “Eventually, we got into it and started doing more advanced sailing and ended up buying and refurbishing a boat 15 years ago.

“Since then, we’ve done long sailing trips and have even delivered boats to the Mediterranean.”

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With a clubhouse sitting directly over the lake, Burwain boasts a fully-qualified staff as well as excellent facilities, including boat storage, changing rooms, a catering kitchen, a bar and lounge, an outside terrace, more than 20 boats, a pontoon with wheelchair access, and launching slipways.

Pete RobinsonPete Robinson
Pete Robinson

They even host radio-controlled boat races every Sunday for those looking to keep their feet on terra firma.

Affiliated to the Royal Yachting Association and fully-accredited, the club - which has around 150 members - sadly had to close its doors and drop anchor at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year in line with government regulations. But, Burwain Sailing Club has started to stir back into life somwehat over the past couple of months.

Since March of this year, Burwain has been following official government pathways to allow them to remove certain restrictions on activities and have even been able to have a few groups from local schools down for sailing sessions.

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With the club always keen to welcome new members - including families - down to try their hand at a truly ancient pastime, everyone affiliated with Burwain is hoping that people’s enthusiasm to get out and about post-lockdown will see more people try their hand at taking control of the tiller.

Burwain Sailing Club was founded in 1951Burwain Sailing Club was founded in 1951
Burwain Sailing Club was founded in 1951

“There’s a tendency for people to see sailing as elitist, but it’s not - at our level, it’s open to absolutely everyone and, for people who are more competitive, there are racing events all over the country,” says Catherine. “It’s such a good social scene and, for kids, trying sailing offers a chance to learn new skills, meet new people, and get out in the fresh air.”

Commercially endorsed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, qualified skipper and RYA-qualified yacht sailing instructor Catherine’s role at the club is as a powerboat instructor. With over 30 years’ sailing experience, she’s sailed more than 15,000 sea miles in UK waters, northern Europe, and the Mediterranean, and even runs her own sailing business called Horizon Sailing, which offers instruction to people looking to plan sailing adventures.

“The club has a good tradition of training and helping people get qualifications, and I really enjoy the teaching side of things,” she explains. “I used to be a swimming coach, so working with others has always been something I’ve gravitated towards. I’m loving being back of late and it’s been great to have school groups down - sailing really brings out kids’ strengths.

“You build up so many natural skills because being on a boat requires communication and preparation and, if you get to that high a level, navigation as well.”