This is a guide to help you understand what happens at an OCSG meet.
Our meets can vary but typically they are held over a weekend and based at a campsite that is right on a substantial stretch of water such as a lake or reservoir. This gives us the opportunity, provided the weather and wind are appropriate, to go for a decent day trip. We often have a choice of objectives to head for, such as an island, nice beach for a picnic or more often than not, a café!
Generally people arrive at the campsite during the Friday afternoon/evening, set up their tent etc and sort out their canoe. Some may have a quick sail or paddle, as well as socialising with old and new friends.
On Saturday morning at 10am we gather for a chat. The Meet Organiser welcomes everyone and lets us know about any specific issues to do with the venue, campsite, possible places to visit, options for evening meals out at local pubs and so on.
Then the Safety Advisor provides a weather and wind forecast, points out any general or specific issues and hazards about the venue and/or lake etc – such as other water users, restricted areas etc. Finally, a reminder to sign out with one or two others before going on the water – and to sign back in on your return.
The sign-out forms provided on the noticeboard also ask for destination, your phone number and anticipated return time. If this all sounds a bit official then please don’t be put off – these are procedures that we have developed over the years to manage the risks of canoe-sailing together. Anybody on the water, doing any activity, has a responsibility to anyone else – our meets are run so as to encourage everyone to undertake their duty of care to others almost automatically, without it getting in the way of having a rewarding time sailing together.
We aim to have a relaxed style of event – really we are just a bunch of friends spending time together doing what we enjoy!
After a day of sailing most people are off the water by late afternoon. Evenings often involve chatting and having a beer or glass of wine etc together. Sometimes we have a BBQ, a fire if it’s allowed, some may go and have meal and drinks at a local pub – it just depends on the place and what people want to do. Sometimes we may have a group shelter or large tent to gather in – particularly useful in the rain!
On Sunday mornings we often have another group chat and see if there is enough interest to hold a race or two. These are friendly and not taken too seriously. But they do provide a bit of gentle rivalry, together with the chance to compare both your own skills, as well as your canoe’s performance, against others. This can be quite informative as well as a bit of fun. Races generally last about an hour and we have an informal handicap system to correct the times recorded, to account for the various sail areas used on different canoes.
Those not interested in racing usually head off for another cruise, again signing out as a buddy group of two or three, teaming up with others who have the same objectives and similarly performing canoes.
The meet winds down during the Sunday afternoon; those with longer journeys packing up and leaving sooner, while others make the most of the weekend if the campsite allows late departures.
Please note that although under 18 year olds are welcome at our meets, they must be under the direct supervision and responsibility of their parent or responsible adult, as the club is not able to provide instruction or supervision for unaccompanied children or vulnerable adults.