News

October 5th 2016

Sailing in Portsmouth

Reservist Richard Cooke

Sailing in severe winds, taking part in capsizing drills and dinghy racing were all experiences embraced by a reservist on a recent military training course.

Able Seaman Richard Cooke, aged 29, who lives in Ilkeston, serves with HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit, and visited the Royal Navy’s Sailing Centre in Portsmouth this summer to develop his nautical knowledge.

The water-based training saw both reservists and regular (full-time) sailors travel from around the country to take part in a course that was designed to enhance participants’ basic sailing, navigation, knot tying, and boat manoeuvring skills, as well as developing an understanding of maritime traffic procedures.

Richard explained: “Reservists are encouraged to take part in adventurous training through the unit each year, so when this opportunity popped up I thought it sounded a perfect way of me learning to sail and getting a qualification too.

“The training was fun as well as challenging. It included capsize drills where we took it in turns to capsize and practise re-righting the boat. Sailing in both mild and severe winds were skills we had to master, as well as racing each other and practicing turning manoeuvres, which is not easy for a complete novice like me.”

Richard originally joined HMS Sherwood in 2008 as he had always had an interest in the Royal Navy but also wanted to pursue a civilian career.

He previously took part in a few sailing taster sessions at university and has since wanted to learn more about the basics of sailing in different sea conditions.

Richard, who works as a Team Coordinator for Children’s Social Care in Derbyshire, continued: “On one of the training days we experienced very strong winds which were a real challenge to operate in, but it was an incredible feeling being out on the water. Our boat almost capsized but this allowed us to put our learning to good use righting the vessel. On the same day, I also unfortunately fell in the water, but it all added to the experience!”

Due to there being only light winds in the final period of the course, Richard and the rest of the group were unable to complete the course’s man overboard and picking up buoy drills so no qualifications were presented on this occasion.

However, Richard is still looking forward to achieving his sailing qualification on another occasion. He concluded: “Initially my intention was to finish the course on a windier day so I could achieve a Royal Yacht Association qualification, but this was not to be this time due to the weather. Passing the course will enable me to sail dinghies. The RNR holds an annual sailing regatta, where personnel from across the country compete against each other in a sailing competition. This will be a fantastic way of meeting new people and developing my core sailing experience.”

Lieutenant Commander Hattie Jacques, from HMS Sherwood, said: “Dinghy sailing is part of the RNR’s sea sense training package, intended to familiarise reservists with the maritime environment in which they could be expected to operate.

“Sea sense training in the RNR includes everything from exercises and training on warships to adventurous training like that undertaken by Richard, as well as learning ship damage control and fire-fighting on ships among other skills. All of these opportunities are open to reservists every year to help them gain maritime skills that could one day be used on operations at sea.”

"The RNR holds an annual sailing regatta, where personnel from across the country compete against each other in a sailing competition. This will be a fantastic way of meeting new people and developing my core sailing experience.”