Jacana Sailing Club

By Ashleigh Whaley

Amazingly, this landlocked country has produced a large number of world-class sailors. The Jacana Yacht Club at Lake Chivero is the only sailing club left in Zimbabwe and somehow it manages to keep going, despite the economic ups and downs this country has faced. It is incredible when one stops to think about it!

My children absolutely loved the four days of tutored sailing and camping. However, it was a mammoth task getting ready for the event, as we needed to send along with our 8-tonne lorry, loaded up with a camping kit, two Oppie sailing boats, and firewood.  With the speed boat in tow, we all set off for the three-hour trek to Lake Chivero, situated east of Harare.

Jacana Yacht Club is situated on the eastern bank of Lake Chivero and has a beautiful campsite, along with a historical clubhouse. As soon as we arrived, the offloading and action began – and it took us a good couple of hours to get organised and settled. The children helped me launch the speed boat before it was time to relax and socialise with all the others in camp.

Sailing School Begins.

The first morning the children quickly rigged their Oppies, before preparing their egg and bacon rolls for breakfast. They then headed off to find someone else to help- and the spirit of sailing began!

Friday afternoon sailing commenced with checking if all the Oppies were rigged correctly. The time came to go over the sailing terms, to refresh memories, before the children all headed out for a late afternoon sail.

Unfortunately, Paula Joy’s 40-year-old Oppie did not last long, before a piece broke off, which needed much time to fix! Thankfully, friends came to the rescue, by lending her a lovely racing Oppie. This show of community spirit is what attracted so many of us to the sport.

Saturday morning began with much activity at 7 am and a strong chilly wind blowing! This is exactly what the children wanted and they raced off on their bikes to participate. Some children were very concerned about heading out to sail in the strong wind.

However, it turned out to be a good morning for the advanced Oppie sailors, with two children capsizing, one being Paula Joy!  It was an experience they will all remember, and they returned smiling, having conquered the strong winds on day one.

With more strong afternoon winds, advanced Oppie sailors headed out again to do some tacking exercises. It was tough, battling the wind and waves, which certainly tested the children’s abilities. Paula Joy absolutely loved the challenge and her sailing improved immensely.

By the evening the young sailors returned very tiredly, cold and hungry! However, the day was not over, until we had all participated in a fun family after supper quiz.

Sunday morning was again chilly, with some wind, so the children set out to sail around the buoys, whilst being coached. They had one practice race after tea before the wind disappeared completely. The afternoon was spent with children learning how to tie knots, followed by playing games and making up a short fun skit, to perform before dinner and bingo. Another eventful day for our tired little sailors.

Sadly, Monday morning dawned without a breath of wind!  There was the usual physical activity to start the day and a slow breakfast, as everyone waited for the wind to pick up.  Eventually, the children set sail, hoping to get in a bit of racing. However, the gentle wind soon vanished, so back into shore they came for tea, whilst waiting longingly for the wind to get up.

The sail past was the final sailing event at Sailing School. It made for a wonderful spectacle to see all the different sailing boats drifting past, as the young sailors saluted the commodore, standing on the point of the bay.  It was such a special event, which took place just before prize giving.  Paula Joy came away with the prize for the cleanest boat, which is something she worked very hard to achieve.

It was sad to see everyone packing up and heading home. However, due to the long-distance, we had travelled, we decided to spend one more night at the lake, where we had some additional boating fun and enjoyed a quiet family evening, before heading out the next day.  

The next morning was all hands on deck, as we packed up camp and headed off home. We left behind Jacana Yacht club, whilst taking away another set of memories and two proficient young sailors.  

A big thank you to the organizers of this event; it was encouraging to see how Sailing School numbers had grown. I recommend that every outdoor-loving child attends Sailing School, as learning to sail is a life skill one will always treasure.

Be it high winds or no wind, there is always fun to be had and lessons to be learned.

Images from Jacana Sailing Club

Originally published in 4th Ndeipi Newsletter

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