Plain sailing at home of Olympic champion

Roy Gunstone Roy Goodison and Tim Brownell at Ulley Sailing Club
Roy Gunstone Roy Goodison and Tim Brownell at Ulley Sailing Club
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IT’S where Olympic gold medal-winning boatsman Paul Goodison learned his skills – but, this Bank Holiday a small South Yorkshire sailing club is welcoming people who have never taken to the water.

Ulley Sailing Club, established 40 years ago at Ulley Reservoir, between Rotherham and Sheffield, is holding an open weekend, which continues until 5pm today.

Famous club member Paul is now based in Weymouth, where he is defending his Olympic title this summer, but is still on the Ulley books.

There are also young members hoping to follow in the 34-year-old’s footsteps, including Max Nicholson, 17, who last year won the Yorkshire and Humber Youth Sailing Association’s summer series, plus Tim Brownell, 21, and Becky Thickett, 14, who are competing regionally.

Among visitors to the open weekend were Steven Bird, from Woodlaithes, Rotherham, his daughter, Lucia, eight, and her friend Amy Marsden, 12.

Steven said: “I’ve never done any sailing before, but we are going on a sailing holiday with the in-laws around the Greek Islands so I thought we would come and try it out.”

Paul Farrell, from Crookes, Sheffield, had brought along daughters Katie, 15, and Neve, 13, and came along because the girls are both interested in joining.

“I enjoyed it. I know a few people who are already in the club,” he said.

Paul Goodison’s parents Roy and Cynthia, from Greasbrough, were among club members helping to run the open event.

Roy said: “Paul started sailing before he was born!

“My wife only took a break from sailing when she was six months’ pregnant.

“I became interested when my dad used to run us out to Ogston in Derbyshire where we would see people sailing.

“I thought that it was only for rich la-de-dahs. But I was introduced to this club through a work colleague of Cynthia’s and, within a week, I’d bought a boat.”

Club committee member, Mark Burkitt, said: “The cost isn’t what people think.

“You can get boats from £250 and family membership is £90.

“It takes six hours to get the basics – then it’s about building experience.”

Founder member Roy Gunstone, aged 78, from North Anston, added: “The club was set up by Rotherham Council which put a newspaper advert appealing for members. Most of us were new to the sport.

“In no time, our boats resembled a school of whales as they upturned and we fell in!”