Boat park news

Thank you to everyone who has contacted us regarding it looking like Port Erin Commissioners trying to move us off the land behind the Cosy Nook which we currently use as a boat park and sail training area. Firstly to reassure everyone that 7th Wave has every intention of running all of our usual activities, kayak hire and RYA sail training courses in 2024.

We are absolutely not closing and I have sent my Expression of Interest to continue using this piece of land as a boatpark and sail training site as we have done for the last 18 years, in accordance with an agreement dating back to April 2006.

The first I learned about this was in a group email from the Commissioners. Apparently my licence to use the land ‘expired sometime during covid’ however the Commissioners have made no attempt to draw this to my attention when the licence came to expire or at any time since. Thus we find ourselves here, I have put in our application, now to wait and hope for a favourable outcome.

At least now we know how the weather looks, we can think about how best to adjust the sails…. In the meantime the anchor is firmly down in Port Erin. Sails will be up and the bay will be filled with boats, young people and laughter from May 2024.

Youth Sailing Weeks are go!

We are back on the water with our first Youth Sailing Week of the summer holidays – and it is nice a breezy today.

We are all girls here this week including the Principal / Chief Instructor, Senior Instructor, 2 x Dinghy Instructors and all the sailors on the course!

High fives to the Force 5 girls!

Happy 17th birthday 7th Wave!

Who would have thought, way back in 2006 when we first open the doors at 7th Wave, that 17 years later we would be here, standing firm with almost two decades of memories under our belts.

It is hard to know where to start. In 2006 we had 6 boats, 4 kayaks and a mostly empty beach, Port Erin beachfront has certainly seen some changes in that time. Although the bay has stayed pretty much the same. Each year April sees the terns come back marking the start of the sailing season, sharks in late May, motorbikes bring the first flock of people in June. At the end of July the cliffs quiet as the guillemots and razorbills fly back out to sea, August sees the return of the westerlies and by September visitors are looking to migrate for winter. Milner’s Tower continues to keep watch over land and sea as the seasons change and time ticks on by.

To have a business model where income is related directly to the weather at latitude 54 north was indeed probably ‘foolhardy’ as one of my nearest and dearest remarked when this adventure began – an accountant would most likely agree! But I guess it depends on your measure of wealth. This investment has been in adventure and experiences, in helping people overcome challenges, in learning and passing the learning on , in friendships, in shared stories, in community and in memories…

Here are just 17 of so many:

This day in 2007 I tried to leave Jack on the beach with my brother while I took a group of kids kayaking. Jack didn’t like getting wet, but he disliked being left even more. He started wading out after me, I had to go back for him, then learn to paddle with a collie on board, he spent as much time on the water as I did.

Ffinlo was our first ever sailing customer way back in 2006 – he was five years old. We shared many adventures including several close ups with sharks. Ffinlo has spent every summer (and plenty of winters) on the water ever since. He sailed with the Manx Youth Sailing Squad finishing 4th at the RS Tera Worlds in 2012 before moving into the RS Aero class. He’s now a qualified RYA Senior Instructor, went on to lead the St Andrews University Sailing Team while he was at uni there and ably assisted Chief Instructor Alex during the COVID19 pandemic keeping 7th Wave up and running for two years while I was stuck out due to border closures.

“Believe me my young friend, there is nothing, abolsutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”. This photo of Tom Howitt and Alex Sharpe way back in 2009 shows the bonds of trust between two friends that come with ‘simply messing about in boats’. I think of all the times shared, the stories told and friendships made, the highs and the lows and the cameraderie sailors share in both.

Paul is wheelchair bound, but he has such determination. This was the first time he went solo in a kayak after we had done a few sessions together in a double kayak. I will always remember him saying on this day “This is so fantastic… nobody looking at me now would ever know about the wheelchair”. I later discovered Paul has a talent for drawing, he brought me a beautiful picture of our days out complete with a tern.

“Me and my Arrow, straighter than narrow, wherever we go everyone knows – it’s me and my arrow.” Harry Nilson, The Point
This was the day that our new fleet of Topper sailing dinghies arrived – April’s Fools Day 2010, my brother Dave was helping me, he snapped this – one of my favourite pictures of all time.

Guy Wood was a professional rugby player back in 2010 when this pic was taken. It was very much a case of Little and Large in this boat. Little was 8 year Ben Batchelor, this was one of his earliest days out on the water. Ben’s sailing career has gone from strength to strength, starting his racing days in an RS Tera with the Manx Youth Sailing Squad, he finished 3rd at the 2016 World Championship. Ben sailed for the RYA GBR 29er squad and last weekend was on the winning boat Shotgun at the Cape 31 class at the RORC Vice Admirals Cup.

2012 was the year of the London Olympics. The RYA encouraged Clubs and Centres to host their own Sail for Gold events. This started our annual Sail For Gold Port Erin Regatta and also quickly led to us learning that decades ago there used to be a Port Erin Regatta sailing competition and that there was even a trophy for it. We were able to find the trophy, introduce it to some silver polish and it now features the names of a host of new young sailors including Ben Batchelor – several times!

Manx Youth Sailing Squad 2015. The first training session was blowing a hoolie, but we went and spent a day reaching and learning to hike. A few weeks later the IOM Youth Championship was held at Port St Mary, I was there on coach and safety boat duties. I will never forget this day, it was dead downwind to the start line and blowing ol’ boots again. I knew if I sent them off on a dead run in this wind they would most likely death roll on the way out and not make the start. So I lined them up like ducks in a row behind the RIB and lead them out on a broad reach, into some huge waves off the back of Alfred Pier, I lead them far enough to make it a broad reach the other way to the start line, then I lead them all through a tack and phew – we were on our way. Throughout the entire duration of this, Teddy Dunn is right behind me bawling his eyes out, he does not want to be here at all – I want him to get to the start line. To make matters a little more tricky for me I have Teddy’s Dad in the safety boat with me. I basically instructed poor Andy Dunn to pretend that he was not there and to please ignore his poor crying child. They all started the race. Teddy finished 4th at the 2019 RS Tera World Championship, he is now racing 420s with the RYA GBR Youth Squad. Peter Cope also joined the squad this year. Peter and Teddy spent several championships battling against each other. Peter finished 2nd overall at the 2019 Worlds, him and Teddy won two races each at that Championship. Peter in now sailing Aeros , 420s and anything else that floats and races. Has just qualified as a Dinghy Instructor and in another passing of the batten Peter and Teddy will be coaching the 2023 Manx Youth Sailing Squad.

2017 RYA Dinghy Instructor course with RYA Coach Assessor Alan Jones. Here started one of those friendships that will long outlast the job. Alan has visited every year since 2016 (except the two pandemic years) to run Instructor courses at 7th Wave. It is during these week long courses that I see many youngsters start to grow into the adults they will become. Something about the Instructor course brings out new levels of confidence, independence, responsibility and understanding of so many life skills in such a short space of time. The RYA Scheme really does do a superb job in developing its people from novice to Instructor to Yachtmaster and beyond. The RYA has given me a career that I would not change for anything.

This Girl Can weekend 2017, the first of many. Instructor and Manx Youth Sailing Squad member Izzy Sharpe suggested we put on a This Girl Can weekend to inspire more women and girls to take to the water. This particular weekend saw 10 girls on a Start Racing course and dozens of ladies taking the helm of either a sailing dinghy or powerboat.

2018 A voice pipes up over the VHF radio “There’s a shaaaaaaark!…. right in the middle of the course”. Every close encounter I have had with these graceful gentle giants has left me feeling very humble, very lucky and very small. My all-time top five experiences with nature have all been within half a mile of this bay.

This is another friends for life story, Roo and Isla met on a course at 7th Wave one summer a good few years ago now. Not only do they share sailing in common, but both are talented musicians. Isla plays bagpipes and Roo a host of instruments including the tin whistle. In 2018 Roo busked outside 7th Wave entertaining locals, tourists and all the sailors on our courses. She was fundraising for the Teapot Trust which was founded by Isla’s Mum. Here Roo presents a cheque to Laura and Isla. They are both qualified as Intructors last year and will be leading courses here this summer, I hope we get a session together and “have a tune” or two this summer.

Alex Daniel started sailing with us when he was young along with brother Bailey. Unlike a lot of the others who got the bug and never left, Alex had a go for a while, stopped sailing and then came back to it aged 15. A year later he had qualified as a Dinghy Instructor and was let loose at 7th Wave. He would soon qualify as a Senior Instructor and in 2019 became the first Chief Instructor at 7th Wave. Little did either of us know then that there was a pandemic coming. COVID forced some tough decisions, mine being the choice between heading home to a heap of uncertainty as borders were closing staying working at Necker Island which would guarantee the bills would be paid if we were not able to open the doors that summer. Sometime in July 2020 he called me to ask if they could open 7th Wave without me. “Of course you can” was the reply. Even then neither of us knew that this would turn into a two year arrangement. Needless to say the gratitude I have for this young man knows no bounds. He took a firm grip of the tiller and successfully steered 7th Wave through uncharted waters and out the other side.

Betty Ford, the tractor that has brought me both tremendous amounts of joy and plenty of tears. I have lost count of how many times a Watterson has received a phone call which starts “the tractor has broken down on the beach”. Every time they have arrived immediately to assist and even the times that the breakdown was my fault they never lost their tempers with me and always quietly, calmy twisted this, adjusted that, tapped that and gotten her going again. She is like having an extra person on the team with plenty of muscle to get things moved around, boats launched, mooring chains pulled, vehicles towed out of the sand. She has also been a 15 year course in diesel engines and basic mechanics – every day is a school day and I am still happily learning, although I do wish that someone had pushed me toward Motor Vehicle Engineering class at school instead of the drawing pictures classes.

Working in conjunction with the amazing Michelle Stewardson of Saltworks SUP on this day in August 2019 we had the biggest day ever at 7th Wave with a total of 72 people on the water, this included our usual Youth Sailing Week students and a party of 40 odd scouts from Belfast, one of whom aptly described himself as “feeling like a helpless little penguin” in a wetsuit as they headed out to the kayaks and paddleboard session. We very much enjoyed teaming up with Michelle and hope we can do more together in the future.

Full circle, the 2012 Sail for Gold Regatta entrants present the Port Erin Regatta trophy to the 2019 winner Ivan Nicholls. Ealish Green, Ben Batchelor and Ffinlo Wright have all grown up with and part of 7th Wave. It brings me much joy to see the batten firmly passed and they are continuing the work that we started back then – before Ivan was even born!

2023 and we are reunited after two and half years, meanwhile in Ukraine people are now forced apart again, this time by war. This painting was presented to our team as a Thank You gift by 11 year old Timor, he wound up here on the Isle of Man with his mother as a refugee from the war, his father was still in Ukraine. Timor had tried sailing in Ramsey and his host family had found us after that. We were so happy to be able to do something for this family and a couple of weeks sailing may seem like a drop in the ocean when looking at the bigger picture. It turns out that Timor’s dad is a sailor, so we hope that one day very soon he can go back to Ukraine and share sailing stories with him. The acts of kindness that may seem so small are often often the biggest gifts we have to give. I finished our 16 season acutely aware of the privilged life I have been fortunate to enjoy, humbled often when I listen to the stories of others and I have a greater understanding the ‘why’ behind what we do. Ultimately sailing is our happy place it makes us smile.

An unexpected visitor

Yesterday was the kind of day that most of us Irish Sea dwellers would have elected to stay firmly onshore. But not Stick Daring, I helped him launch from Purt Verk in Port St Mary, Isle of Man at 10am, sending him out to cross the Irish Sea on a 43NM trip to Holyhead.

Stick left Eastbourne on the 17th July and is sailing anti clockwise round Britain. He’s survived surf beaches, overfalls, doldrums and big breeze on his trip so far, with what sounded like some pretty hairy moments around the Scottish coast including a brief encounter with some orca.

He arrived in Port St Mary on Tuesday afternoon, my friends in Ramsey had asked me to look out for him, so when the sailor arrived from the sea I was able to give him food, drink, hot shower, wifi, a bed for the night, chart and almanac and some passage planning help.

My unexpected visitor and new friend set out to sea again yesterday in a decent blow with some big old waves, I spent all day wondering if I would be the last person to ever see him!

Just after 3pm my phone rang… it was Stick! The line was a little broken but I heard his message “Lost comms with coastguard, VHF died, call you call Belfast Coastguard for me”. I duly did, the lady in Belfast Ops room asked if I was his designated person ashore. “I guess I am, I hadn’t met this fella until yesterday, but it was me that helped him out to sea today” I replied. We were all happy to hear the update “10 or 12 miles off Holyhead”. What a trip!! 30 odd miles in 5 hours in a Laser!!

Around 5pm my phone rings again…. “Where is the RNLI station in Holyhead”, now I’m in Shoprite trying to act as a Holyhead pilot for a chap in a Laser. I hope he found Holyhead Lifeboat Station – RNLI and had a good night’s rest before carrying on the next leg.

Stick was a welcome visitor here, I am so happy to have been able help in some small part on his adventure and grateful to have had a brief opportunity to hear some of his stories of sailing, life and living. “I hate the phrase ‘can’t be bothered’ ” he said.

That Laser looked very small as it dropped below the horizon.

Foundations of the Manx Youth Sailing Squad.

Article written by Dave Kneale and featured in Manx Life Magazine, Febnruary 2011. Reproduced here with permission.

Following an incredible series of results the eight youngsters of Manx Youth Sailing Squad are braving the elements and getting back on the water. The winter training programme marks the start of their 2011 campaign which will culminate in July at the RS Tera dinghy World Championship in Denmark.

During 2010 young Manx sailors James Kelly and Hannah Howitt were crowned World Champions after a triumphant performance at the RS Tera World Championship in France, while the whole team secured the Team Champions Trophy at the UK’s Inland Championship.

These are no small feats for a squad formed only three years ago to give children aged thirteen and under the chance to compete in high-level racing events both at home and overseas.

For Jen Kneale, proprietor of 7th Wave RYA Training Centre and founder of the MYSS, this is familiar territory.  By the age of eighteen she had already competed in two world championships in the Laser dinghy after being spotted by the coaches and selected for Great Britain’s Laser team.

“Competitive sailing is an extraordinarily complicated business,” she explains, “it’s not just about who sails fastest on the day. There’s a huge amount of knowledge and experience involved: boat setup, complex rules, tides, weather, fitness, nutrition and strategy.  It’s about being able to sail well in any weather, while constantly making all kinds of tactical decisions. It takes concentration, maturity and as much time on the water as you can get.”

Her idea of forming a racing squad began to take shape after teaching dozens of young sailors at 7th Wave. “I wanted to give our sailors a better chance than I’d had; I wanted them to go to a championship having had plenty of training beforehand, a coach on location and a team around them for support.”

Sailing instructors from around the island formed the coaching team and went about selecting the sailors. In the summer of 2008 the first team of youngsters were invited to join the squad: brothers James and Greg Kelly, Izzy Sharpe, Hannah Howitt, Nick Parkes and Amie Shute, with Ffinlo Wright joining the team the following year. Using Tera dinghies borrowed from 7th Wave, training began in preparation for the squad to compete at the 2008 Tera Inland Championship in the UK.

“Sailing in a big fleet for the first time, with 30 identical boats on a start line, is a big step up from our local dinghy racing. Even for adults it can be intimidating, so we put no pressure on them for results. We just wanted them to experience that kind of racing.” 

It seems the young Manx sailors had other ideas. Greg Kelly, just ten years old at the time, won the first race and finished third overall, with older brother James finishing tenth.

“Getting two top ten results was more than we’d ever hoped for and a huge boost for the whole squad. They all came back believing they could do well.”

After a winter of coaching they returned to the UK for the Tera Nationals in 2009, which would prove to be a decisive moment for the squad. Their collective results secured them the National Team Champions trophy and all six youngsters were selected to compete for Great Britain at the 2010 Tera World Championship in France.

If the first year’s success had created ripples, this created tidal waves: “Bringing home the Team Trophy was a great achievement. But to have the entire team selected for the GBR squad was unbelievable.” 

Donations from the Manx Lottery Trust, AM Limited and Skandia allowed the squad to buy six new Tera dinghies to replace the ageing training boats and the sailors were invited to four training weekends in the UK in preparation for the World Championship. Between the time out of school and the expense of travelling, however, it was obvious that regular attendance would be impractical. 

From her teenage experiences attempting to participate in the GBR training programme while studying for her A-Levels on the Island, Jenni understood the challenges involved: 

“For me it was a logistical nightmare; family and friends in the UK would get the boat from A to B, while I would travel from the Island on my own, getting there however I could. I could barely carry all the kit on my back,” she laughs, “one bag with a wetsuit, buoyancy aid and spare clothes, plus the sails, rudder and daggerboard, ropes, tackle and tools.”

This is a common problem for island-based athletes, so a plan was hatched to bring GBR Team coach Jonathan Lewis to the Island, supplementing the training offered by the core coaching team of Rob Cowell, Phil Hardisty, Donald Edwards and Jenni. “It made much more sense to bring the coach to the sailors. To have brand new racing boats and the undivided attention of a national coach took things to a new level”.

Jonathan ran four intensive training weekends before the squad headed to France to compete at the RS Tera World Championship in July 2010. Taking advantage of the strong winds throughout the week, James Kelly led the overall standings from day one and clinched the gold medal with a day to spare, a commanding performance which capped an outstanding week of results for the MYSS.  Hannah Howitt and Izzy Sharpe were the top two girls in the fleet, crowning Hannah as the RS Tera World Ladies Champion.

“The results are down to the hard work and dedication of the whole squad and a huge volunteer effort behind the scenes. Training is tough, especially in winter, but the kids are always smiling, always happy and always pushing themselves to do better. When Jonathan came over for his first training weekend, he said ‘we could have a world champion in this room.’ It turns out we had two!”

As well as preparing the five youngsters who will contest the World Championship, 2011 will see new recruits Ben Batchelor and Matthew Petts make their UK debuts at the Tera National Championship in July and a new intake of youngsters will be invited to join the squad in the spring.

Jenni and the team are helping the squad’s older sailors make the move into bigger, faster boats and a chance at selection for the Island Games sailing team and the GBR Transition Squad, which helps young racers progress into Olympic classes like the Laser. 

“It feels like we’re all part of a big family so it’s a little emotional seeing them outgrow the Tera dinghies and take the next step. It’s amazing what they’ve achieved, both as individuals and as part of a team. To me though, they’re simply here to learn, make friends and enjoy themselves, that’s my job as a coach. It’s a privilege to be there to help them grow in ability and confidence as they become young adults.”

2 race wins for Manxies at Worlds yesterday

Manx sailors win two races at the RS Tera World Championship yesterday! It was a big day, with four races sailed by the Pros and three for the Sports, the youngsters spent over seven hours on the water! We have great news to report from each of our sailors:

Peter Cope had yet another superb day with 3rd, 3rd, 1st and 5th. The 5th being his discard! He is still in 2nd place overall going in to the final races today.

Teddy Dunn is up there too with a 4th, 14th, 3rd and a 1st in the final race of the day, which moves him up to 4th place overall. Will we see two Manx sailors on the World Championship podium later today?

Georgia Harding had her best day ever, after a shaky start with a 29th (discarded) she then produced a 19th – her best result ever… that was until the third race where she found her own lanes and finished an incredible 8th place, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke Georgia came 7th in the final race of the day. Congratulations Georgia, it is great to see all the hard work paying off.

More good news from the Sport fleet, Archie Dunn was back on form and had a great day with a 13th, 6th and a 2nd in the final race of the day! He is lying in 18th place overall and stands a good chance of moving up some places if it goes well for him today.

Newcomer Amélie Harding set herself a challenge of getting a top 40 place yesterday. She thought it was unrealistic but she’s a determined little soul and she “wanted a proper challenge.” Well she did it! In the first race she was 42nd which was her best result until a 36th in the second race which she backed up with another 36th. She is super proud of herself, as are her family, friends and the rest of the squad both here and in Sweden.

The Pros and Sports are now on the water for the final three races of this World Championship series. I’m on the edge of my seat and my nails are getting shorter by the minute. I only hope that the team are cool and focussed in their races and that it is a smooth day for everyone….

We’ll bring you the results as we get them.

Manxies race at RS Tera Worlds in Sweden this week

Racing starts today at the RS Tera World Championship in Sweden and five Manx sailors are there taking part.

Recently returning from the RS Tera Inlands in 3rd and 4th place respectively, Peter Cope and Teddy Dunn are on top form and have high hopes of seeing some good results this week at the Worlds. They are both racing in the RS Tera Pro fleet along with Georgia Harding, who has worked hard in the Pro this season.

In the Sport fleet and following in the footsteps of their older siblings, Archie Dunn and Amelie Harding. Archie competing at his second Worlds will be looking to build on last year’s experience. For Amelie, the Worlds will be her first ever major championship, we know the learning curve will be huge and the experience will be amazing for her.

Wishing all of our team the very best of everything…. sunshine, breeze, some nice big waves, some luck and a lot of smiles and laughter.,

Sailors try SUP

7th Wave sailors go paddleboarding! A huge thank you to Michelle at Saltworks SUP Paddleboarding for running an awesome Water Skills Academy SUP Safety course here last night for our staff members and Jack from Ballakermeen High School who has been with us all week on Work Experience.

We learned a lot about SUP paddling, self rescue, rescuing others and falling in. It turns out that you can capsize a board, there is a SUP equivalent to the sailors “scoop in” method post capsize, towing is possible, there are no ropes to get in a tangle and the sea is warmer than expected!

Expert tuition from Michelle at Saltworks SUP Paddleboarding made the session informative and enjoyable, we would recommend Michelle to anyone looking to learn SUP. Pizzas from La Gusto Pizza rounded the evening off perfectly.

Meanwhile here at 7th Wave our instructing and safety boat team now have a vastly increased knowledge of SUP so we can help you to enjoy your hire experience with us even more.

Our next mission is to get Michelle into a sailing boat…..

Sail for Gold Regatta 2019

Last weekend was our annual Sail for Gold Port Erin Regatta 2019. It was a fantastic finish to the Race Academy weekend, with 10 boats and 13 young racers on the water. Sailing in Topper Vibes, Topaz, Taz, RS Tera sports and a Tera Pro!

The winds were light and shifty, which was advantageous for the vigilant racers among us and a great training experience for the less experienced, learning to make the most out of small breaths of breeze.

It was great to see new sailors joining for their first races alongside members of the Manx Youth Sailing Squad (MYSS) and even greater to see them pulling their weight to stay competitive during races! Among the fastest sailors were Ivan Nicholls, one the newest MYSS members sailing in his Tera Sport and one of our oldest squad members, Georgia Harding, sailing in her seemingly shrinking Tera Pro. Perhaps next year she’ll be in a bigger and faster boat to compete in!

All three races were on an windward-leeward course with a gate on the beat. The first race had a very slow upwind leg with very little breeze with everyone only completing one lap for the roughly 25 minute race which was won by Ivan!

After the first race the wind shifted and started blowing into the bay again, allowing for a more competitive second race. Newcomer to 7th Wave, Ruari Cottier surprised the coaches on the water by leading the fleet for a good portion of the race and finishing second!

On the third and final race of the regatta the wind died once more unfortunately leading to a couple DNFs and a long tow back to the beach ready for the awards ceremony.

Overall results:
1st Ivan Nicholls: 4, 2, 2
2nd Georgia Harding: 6, 3, 1
Rory McLouglin: 2, 6, 3
Amelie Harding: 3, 5, 5
Ruari Cottier: 7,1, 6
James Gale: 5,4, 7
Roo Hyett: 8, 7, 4
Levi Baugh & Harry Morgan: 6, 9, DNF 
Declan McEntee & Matthew McEntee: 9, 8, DNF
Brandon Smith & Oliver Vanselouw: 10, 10, DNF

1st place Ivan Nicholls receives trophy from five times winner Ben Batchelor
Sailing is winning! Prizes for everyone 🙂

Thanks to Tim Chan for the race report

Dinghy Instructors 2019

Congratulations to this year’s RYA Dinghy Instructor course candidates. 100% success rate!

The team have enjoyed a challenging week, where in order to become Dinghy Instructors they have had to develop good communication strategies, think independently, been encouraged to make mistakes and to overcome hurdles where things haven’t gone to plan.

Five of the six candidates had all started their sailing careers at 7th Wave over the years. We love watching them grow into good sailors, instructors and young adults. We are super proud of them all!

Many thanks to RYA Coach Assessors Alan Jones and Geoff Stones for running another superb week for us here on the Isle of Man and congratulations to Georgie Quayle, Peter Harper, Edward McEntee, Benjamin Mehta, Charlie Whitbread and William Henthorn on your new qualifications!

#rya #sailingisliving #porterin #ryanorthwest