Sporting spectacular serves up chance to 'sail' on tennis court number three

Two women with sailing dinghy in background

Commodore's wife Elaine and tennis club secretary Kirstin preparing for the weekend. - Credit: Submitted

The Bay is no stranger to seeing boats of all shapes and sizes nestled gracefully against a harbour wall or bobbing gently in the middle of the marina.

But never in the history of Torquay Tennis Club will sailing dinghies have been found, not moored in the water nearby, but safely on number three tennis court directly in front of the clubhouse.

It is all part of a spectacular weekend at a mini-sports summit and celebration event at the club later this month.

Paignton Sailing Club is one of many clubs taking part over the weekend to celebrate coming out of lockdown and profiling sport and all it has to offer across the Bay.

Sailing club Commodore Graham Slater and his wife Elaine are very keen to be involved in what could be one of the biggest sporting events in the Bay in recent years.

Elaine says: "It’s just so exciting to finally be able to have people in our boats, laughing and learning and actually being together at the same time. Having our boats rigged up on one of the tennis courts is amazing. People can have a real ‘hands-on’ experience. I’m looking forward to them climbing aboard and showing them how to put up the mast, hoist the spinnaker and set sail, without even having to dip their toe in the water.”

The tennis club is hosting the weekend which takes place on Saturday July 24 and Sunday July 25.

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Secretary Kirstin Neilson-Hunter says she has had such positive feedback from so many clubs and from so many people who want to try their hand at the different activities available, for free, over the two days.

She says: “I recently spoke to a young Mum who was keen to have a go at Women's Rugby, while her son has been nagging her about boxing lessons and her daughter can’t make up her mind if she wants to do karate or gymnastics, or rowing. Her husband saw the ‘Bouncing Back to Sport’ Poster on Sport Torbay Facebook and is determined to have a go at Archery. I told her to bring them all down and they can have a go at everything, from Yoga and rugby to Taekwondo, and Paddle Boarding to Basketball and all the rest in between.”
Andy Pelling, tennis club chairman, added: “The club’s nine outdoor courts will be used for interactive displays and demonstrations, as well as the usual social tennis. We want to give back to the people of Torbay some enjoyment that many had lost as a result of Covid 19. This pandemic has affected us all in some form or another. This may be in a physical, mental, or spiritual way. With fantastic support and encouragement from both Sport Torbay and Torbay Council, we have been able to really push the boat out with this ‘bouncing back’ weekend and bring a sense of wellness and wellbeing, as well as fun and sport to everyone in Torbay”.
On Saturday, July 24th, the day will start with an official opening ceremony by Civic Mayor Terry Manning, his Consort and various dignitaries. Torbay Brass Band will be there to bring a sense of occasion to the proceedings. There will be live entertainment, as well as refreshments and a barbeque, fun tennis competitions with wooden rackets, strawberries and cream and plenty more.
Kirstin says: “With over 20 different sports being represented, there will be something for everyone. We want the clubs to bring their friends, family and fans. This is a weekend to celebrate."

Elaine, who sails regularly, said “Many of us live by the sea but have never really had the chance to really enjoy it. This will give everyone a chance." 
Hockey, yoga class, fitness training, baton twirling, Tai Chi, table tennis and even flying a kite are among the activities being showcased over the weekend.