About Dovestone Sailing Club

There is a great variety of sailing aspirations at Dovestone Sailing Club (DSC), which is enjoyed by the young, not so young, casual sailors, racers and social members. The youth squad is active, there are adult sailors who just like to sail around non-competitively and most sailors like to race. We also have several top-class sailors who compete well with the very best in the world. So whatever your inclination you should find like minded people here at DSC.

Sailing is a rewarding sport that can be challenging to enter, but dinghy sailing at a club like DSC is the most accessible starting point whatever your long-term sailing ambition. New sailors need to learn the skills, familiarise with the equipment and navigate around the sailing club. So, in the first instance, this document attempts to explain how DSC works.

DSC Core operating principles. Volunteering.

DSC is a volunteer members club. Save for some basic provision, such as cleaning, the club is entirely run by its members on a volunteer basis. Members manage the club, run the bar, run sailing events, look after the facilities, maintain the boats and clubhouse and provide training as volunteers. All members are invited to participate as much as possible, and while some are more able to do so than others, being part of the wider activity and community generally leads to a fuller and more rewarding experience.

A minimal level of volunteering is expected, but these are mainly limited to on-water or social activities that most members value as an opportunity to have fun on boats and otherwise get involved. This minimal level, termed “duties” is required around four times a year as follows:-

  • Galley Duty – involves buying, preparing and selling refreshments on selected days. ( All costs incurred are reimbursed )
  • Safety Boat Duty – manning the motorboat to provide safety assistance. Training will be provided.
  • Officer of the Day and Assistant – is required on racing days and mainly includes organising, starting and finishing races. New members will be asked to assist rather than assume total responsibility.

Training and Learning

DSC recognises that taking up sailing as a new activity is challenging and attempts to support this process as much as possible. It does so in the context of being a volunteer members club.

The best place to start for an adult or child is through a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training course. A weekend course should get most people to the point of being able to sail a triangular course. A triangular course uses all the basic sailing skills of sailing up-wind (beating), down-wind (running), across wind (reaching), turning into the wind (tacking) and turning away from the wind (Gybing), as well as launching and basic rigging. To refine these skills requires lots of practice thereafter. Once this is mastered there are more advanced RYA courses available.

DSC provides some RYA training courses for adults, but does not have the capacity to provide courses to everybody at a time that is convenient to them. Members requiring formal training that are unable to access them at DSC are encouraged to access courses at Hollingworth Lake, Debdale or Sale Water Park.


Our experience tells us that there is only so many times you can sail around Dovestone reservoir before wondering what comes next. The majority view, and outcome, is that sailing a set course, with friends, in an attempt to go as fast as possible is the activity that provides the sense of purpose, reward and progression; thus sustaining interest in the long term. An alternative route to long-term participation is to use the skills learned to move onto bigger boats in alternative locations.

Therefore, we encourage all new members to get involved in racing as soon as possible after learning how to sail a triangular course. Racing at Dovestone is very informal and, other than safely handling the boat, there is no minimal skill expectation. While we have a track record of producing world champions we are not at all pushy and the level of competitiveness and commitment is entirely down to each member to determine.


Most children love the water, and at DSC they learn a few skills, play, make friends and generally have fun. The youth group meets on Friday evenings in spring and summer for skills development activities alongside time for unstructured sailing fun. The DSC youth offering is not a “drop and go” activity as is the case with many other child activities, and is thus included in the membership fee. Parents are expected to stay on-site at all times and assist with changing and boat rigging alongside experienced members that will be present.

DSC does not offer youth “training”. The word “training” implies a formal and structured content provided by RYA qualified instructors. The DSC youth offering is practise sessions and fun, assisted by experienced members. That said, even without the formal structure and accreditation, many of our children progress really well by racing at club level, and some progress to become nationally and internationally competitive by travelling to external events. When this happens, it is largely down to parental commitment and there is a well-trodden route that experienced members can explain.


Sailing is an equipment driven sport and poor equipment generally results in poor outcomes. This is equally true for personal equipment such as wetsuits (it’s really not fun when your hands go blue). Some boats that are poorly set up and not functioning correctly are extremely difficult to sail, and there is a risk that a beginner concludes that they cannot sail, when in fact it is the fault of the boat. A boat does not have to be new or expensive to be set up correctly and all our experienced members love talking about boats most of all, so will be happy to help.

Adults new to sailing, and all children, can access club boats via the boat borrowing scheme. There is a nominal fee to access the scheme and a booking system. The objective of the scheme is to get members to practice and participate and ultimately achieve a level of confidence where they acquire their own boats. The expectation is that new adult members will have their own boat within the first two years.

Sailing times

During the sailing season we race on Wednesday evenings (April to September) and Sundays (March to December). We also sail casually on Friday evenings in Spring and Summer, which is also when the youth group meets. As explained above, everybody who can sail a triangular course and feels safe on the water is encouraged to race on Wednesdays and Sundays. You may feel inexperienced, but please do not feel put off by racing, which is the life-blood of the sport. Racing days are also when the majority of experienced sailors come to sail, so to access advice and assistance Wednesdays and Sundays are the best time to do it.


Safety is always the number one priority. Always wear a buoyancy aid. As a member you are allowed to sail 365 days a year, but if there is no safety boat on the water then you must buddy-sail, which means sailing when there is at least one other boat on the water. Also, when buddy sailing you must watch out for each other and be prepared, and capable, to assist in an emergency.

Car park

With your car sticker you can park by the club house and by the lake. Please don’t park on the lane.

Social Activities

Dovestone Sailing Club runs a number of social events at various times of the year, plus the annual presentation dinner. The evening summer events are always very special, especially if the Saddleworth weather is kind.


The first reference point is the sailing calendar available on DSC’s website. This is fixed like iron at the beginning of the season and only disrupted by either too much or too little wind. For additional detail the following hierarchy of communication is used.

  • 1. Email: used for formal communication of a management nature. E.g. club AGMs, notices, membership renewals etc.
  • 2. Facebook: an informal group open to all members. Used for pretty much anything
  • 3. WhatsApp: Subgroups for special interest. For example there is a WhatsApp group for parents of youth sailors


We are a sailing club, affiliated to the RYA, that welcomes families and individuals new to sailing or experienced. We provide training and coaching for adults and young people, to develop skills towards taking part in the club racing programme and beyond.


Dovestone reservoir
Greenfield, Oldham
P: 01457 873000
M: 07930 551157
[email protected]