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S&A memories and sailing a Gaffling

As the Swallows and Amazons weekend celebrated 25 years 7 – 9 June, 2024 we hear from Maddy Masters, a Young East Coast Gaffer who wasn’t even born when this event started in 1999.

I can confidently say that attending this blissful sailing weekend constitutes some of my earliest sailing memories. These include the excitement of being bundled into the car after school with far too much camping stuff, customary for any family with three young children. The drive to Walton is a particularly poignant memory for me, anticipation building as I knew what the weekend had in store. 

I really don’t remember much of the sailing itself, rather an overall feeling of exhilaration after having explored the little creeks, messed around in the mud and spent the day outside on the water. My strongest memories surround the whimsical paper boat race and scrabbling around under the club house in a desperate attempt to scavenge anything to build the best boat and become that year’s boat building victor, all worth it for a bag of gummy sweets of course. Attending Swallows and Amazons as a child truly felt like a serene little bubble and was one of the best weekends of the year. It’s safe to say a few years have passed since then, and although no longer a sugar fuelled hyperactive 10-year-old I had a great time this year. Many of that same gaggle of muddy kids were in attendance in adult form and the weekend maintained its reputation for being a wonderful couple of days of sailing, camping and delicious food with fabulous company.

Rather than mudlarking and paper boat building I had the pleasure of sailing one of the East Coast OGA’s very own Gafflings, it was an absolute blast! With Will Roberts on the helm and me as crew we whizzed round the course on Saturday’s race, the conditions were excellent for this speedy little gaffer and it was great to get out on the water again. As much as I love my family’s smacks dinghy, she can be a little lethargic at times and it was awesome fun so sail this twitchy little boat in conditions to which she seemed very well suited. I would definitely recommend taking one out! However, regardless of vessel type, little has changed of those charming muddy creeks over the decades, and they still hold a very special charm for me, and many others who are lucky enough to sail there. 

Words: Maddy Masters, East Coast Young Gaffer