Sailing is practically my life, well it's what every thinbg evolves around for me and my family. I sail an International Mirror Dinghy. at Brightlinbgsea sailing club. You can find out details about the Brightlingsea Mirror fleet through the Brightlingsea Mirror pages.

Basically the Mirror is a two man (or woman) wooden Boat. It is sailed by anyone of any age, from people of my brothers age 13, to people as old as 69 who sail with younger children.

Although my home club is Brightlingsea I travel around the country visiting open meetings and competing in championships. This usually encolves us staying in tents which is good fun to start with, but the novelty wears off after a while, especially in the rain with a leaky tent and a wet sleeping bag!

My first ever boat was a Mirror called Pootle. It was painted red and it was number 60752. All mirrors have red sails, which is good for my mum because she was able to see where we were when we first started sailing.

My first sailing experience must have been when I was about 5 with my dad and my sister, although I did learn to walk on a ferry visiting Holland for a sailing championship my dad was competing in. The Mirror's only meant for two people but when you are that small then it hardly makes any difference, and well hey, it't no fun going to an island and burying treasure on your own, it's much more fun when you take your sister or your friend with you. (If burying treasure is something you have never experienced then I recommend that you give it a go, It's an experience that you rea;lly shouldn't miss out on what ever age you are!).

When I got older I started racing with dad at the club in weekend races. All I can remember about this was shouting to my friend , often just before the start, "Clare, Have you eaten your Mars bar or drunk your can of coke yet". (Well there isn't really much more important in life when you are five or six as to whether you have or haven't eaten your Mars Bar and drank you can of coke!)

Sailing to Wivenhoe with my sister When my sister was about 11, I started sailing with her and I can really remember plodding around miles behind everyone else, last, going really slow. I also remember the horrible winter series when it rained and even snowed and we didn't get in for ages because we were so slow. The first race we ever sailed together was a complete disaster, there was absolutely no wind, but of course all the other boats still managed to sail, but of no, we just sat there and drifted backwards with the tide. In the end we had to get out of the boat and swim it to the shore. This is a very traumatic experience for me, as it would be for any 10 year old.

After weeks of practising and 100's of races believe it or not, started to get better. We even won a couple of races like this one of us sailing up to a town along the river called Wivenhoe. This an annual race and this photo wads taken in about 95. (I would like to say however that I did in fact win this race again this year in my new ultra fast pink boat.)

Dad decided it was about time that we got a new boat. So over the winter of '94., our new boat was built. This one was blue and we called it Ptwootle. It was boat number GBR 69583. We launched Ptwootle in late august and went out and won the first race we sailed in it. We were really pleased when we came in, as you would be, and letty went to sign off (something you have to do when you finish a race so everyone knows you are in safely and not stuck out at sea drowned or sometghing). I told her that I would start packing the boat away, and I carefully took off my boots because I didn't want to scratch the deck of the boat with my shoes. I wasn't to know that I would slip in my bare feed on the deck and fall over, putting my knee straight through the deck of the boat and making an enormous hole in the boat and giving myself a really swolen bruised knee. Needless to say my sister wasn't best pleased when she came back and I think that it is safe to say that anyone who was around at that time got a bit of a mouth full from my sister! Luckily for us our local boat builder, Malcolm Goodwin is a member of our sailing club, and s good froend of ours so was around to mend it.

After this we went away to our first big championships, The european championships in Penzance in Cornwall where we has a lot of bad races and didn't do very well. However practice makes perfect and after travelling around the open meeting circuit we made friends with fellow Mirroe sailors and we actually started to do quite well. We race when ever we could which was quit good looking vback at it now, but at the time sailing alklk weekends and in the rain and snow in the dreaded winter series it didn't seem as much fun. However I still do it now so it doesn't seem to haver knocked any sence into tme at all!

Our trophy which is a cannon that we won We were later, oin 95 selected to be part of the UK squad and represent the UK in the world Mirror championships in Milford Haven. The worlds were a great success and Letty and I picked up the title of being the Best ladies Mirror sailors in the world, and a nice trophy to prove it (pictured right). My brother in fact won this so in our family we had the title of the Ladies world champion and the actuall world champion! Milford haven was the last real time that I sailed with my sister as we just seemed to argue all the time and anyway, I waned to helm on my own.

Jo and I in my new boat Now I helm myself in my own boat which my dad built for me last winter. This boat is pink and it is called pthreetle. Its number GBR 69776.
I started sailing in my boat with a girl called Joanne who is twelve.I have known her all her life as her dad used to sail in the same class of boat as my dad.

Last year we sailed the open meeting circuit and we collected points to try and qualify for the world championships in 97 in Kingston Canada. At a few moments it didn't seem likwely that we were going to make it to kingston, however in the end we got enough points and we were able to make it. So on the 26th July (this is on friday for me as I'm writing this) I am leaving to go and take part in these). There will be countries from all aroud the world, from places as far as South africa. Hopefull it will be good fun and you never know we might even do quite well!

I'm not going to be sailing in Kingston witgh Jo, because we don't sail together any more. Instead I'm going to be sailing with a girl called Jemima Ollie (also known as Jim, Jolly as sghe was called at the Nationals or Golly as she is called on her ticket to canada!). She is 13 and her family has a good history for sailing. Her dad (steve) qualified for the olympics sailing one year and was thought to be the favourite. But this was the year that Margret Thatcher didn't send a sailing team to compete. However he has sailed in Kingston berfore and he actually won the Hurricane world's there so at least she has a good record for doing well there! One day though I shall go to the olympics with Jemima and we shall get the medal that her dad never did!

I'm a member of Brightlingsea Sailing club and of the Colne Yacht club in Brightlingsea of which my dad uysed to be rear Commodore only they suggested that he left because he works too hard and could nevcer make the meetings (that was when he rememberd that they were on!). The sailing clubs have a really good reputation with the sailing and we have had two gold Olympic medals.

The sailing clubs aren't just a place where everyone talks about sailing all the time, although this is the main topic of conversation at the club of course. I have a big group of friends there who I have Known practically all my life. We are all very close and as you can probably tell from the photo album, have a good laugh together.

The club holds lots of social events as well as the sailing. The main thing is Pyefleet week, which unfortunately I won't be here for as I shall be in Canada, but if you are near Brightlingsea by chance, there is a really good band playing one night called Soul Kithchen, which I would reccomend seing. By the way pyefleet week runs from the 1st to the 7th August. This is a week of sailing and of getting very drunk in the evenings, dancing until the early hours to local bands from the town. Also we have Cadet race week at the Yacht club around the corner. This is for cadets, under 18's only, and we all sail and have a good time in the evenings. Dancing at the barn dance and singing, or trying to sing at the Karaoke.

These pages were created, and are maintained by Melissa Heppell

You can mail me, at: