Notes for new AB Members

Introduction. Welcome to Parkstone Yacht Club’s AB Class. Designed by Harry Poole and built in Poole since the 1950’s, this flexible little boat is suitable for a child of approximately 20kg to sail solo (ability depending) or can accommodate an adult and two small children. It has been the perfect way to introduce children to sailing for generations of Poole Harbour boaters. The Fleet currently has about 100 boats and is one of the most vibrant and active at the club. The three simple goals of the Fleet are to:

• Safely allow children to enjoy water based activities in Poole Harbour.
• Have fun on and off the water and make sailing a pleasurable, social activity.
• Learn boat handling skills in order to sail and race competently, confidently and competitively.

The Boat. To be allowed to race, every AB must be in date for its annual buoyancy test, be fitted with a foam bumper on the bow, show its sail number and fly a colour coded mast-head tally (available from the Class Captain):

• Yellow/Gold – Gold Fleet for more advanced sailors.
• Light Grey/Silver – Silver Fleet for intermediate sailors.
• Blue – Bronze Fleet for improvers.
• Red – Child and Parent beginner sailors (CAP Fleet).

AB hulls are to be a minimum of 50.8kg (8 stone) and Gold & Silver Fleet boats must be in date for weighing and measuring to be qualified to race.

Buoyancy Testing. This is conducted on specified days in the first week of the season and is overseen by a committee official. The boat is to be rigged and laid on each side for 3 minutes with a (suitably dressed) child on board. The official will check to ensure no air is escaping from the buoyancy chambers and that the boat isn’t getting lower in the water while capsized. The aim of this test is to ensure a boat keeps itself and its crew afloat long enough for a safety boat to arrive in the event of a capsize in the harbour. The Bouyancy Official has absolute authority to fail any boat they do not believe meets this test. Boats must pass annually to be allowed to participate in AB Fleet activities. Owners of older, wooden boats are encouraged to test their boat early to give themselves time to make repairs and be re-tested if necessary.

Programme. A calendar of dates is available here on the site. In general, ABs can be taken to the club at the end of April in order to be ready to start Sunday morning sailing at the beginning of May. Races are grouped up into a Spring, Summer, Holiday Period and September series. In October racing moves to Saturday Afternoons to make use of lighter and warmer conditions. The Briefing commences at 1400 but the format remains the same. This Winter Series continuous through October and November and, weather permitting, some special races may be held in December. ABs not entered into the Winter Series must be removed from the club at the end of September when the yachts are beginning to be mover ashore. Winter Series ABs must also be removed at the end of the season.

Timings and Format. Sunday sailing starts with a briefing at 10:00 by the Youth Hut which is situated inside the Cruiser Shed at the rear of the yard. To minimise delay on completion of the brief, it is advisable to attend the brief dressed to sail. The brief will include the course for the day, environmental conditions, special race, fleet and club notices. Awards are presented to the previous week’s first and second place finishers. On completion of the brief sailors are to present to the Beach Team at the Beach Hut. The Beach Team record names and sail numbers and check the sailors are properly dressed before handing them a numbered wrist band. Children in CAP fleet must present with the adult they will be sailing with. No child or parent will be allowed to tally unless they are wearing a buoyancy aid. Once the Safety Teams are satisfied they and the course are ready, they will inform the Beach Team who will give the instruction to launch to each flotilla in turn. Gold and Silver sailors launch first and are expected to show some cooperation and be relatively self-sufficient. Bronze sailors will be allowed to launch when the beach is clear. Parents are expected to assist any of the children to launch, ensuring their boats are properly rigged, clothing double-checked and trolleys recovered. Dressed to sail CAP parents are likely to be assisting Bronze sailors and so CAP will launch last. All sailors are to make their way directly to their respective start lines as briefed once launched. This system of control enables the Beach Team to de-conflict the flotillas and be clear about who the safety boats are responsible for at any time. None of the safety boats are allowed to return to the Marina until all the wrist band tallies have been accounted for; when sailors return to shore they must, therefore, return their wrist band as a priority before changing or packing their boat away.

Dress. All sailors must be dressed appropriately for the conditions. The Beach Team have the authority to refuse permission to race if they believe a sailor is not properly prepared. Sailors must be wearing a buoyancy aid appropriate to their weight and correctly fitted with all straps, buckles zips etc properly done up. Another essential item of clothing is appropriate footwear (not flip-flops or wellies); the harbour bottom is littered with broken shards of shell. In general, unless the conditions are exceptionally hot, sailors must also be wearing dry suits or full length wetsuits with spray-tops or waterproof jackets. Ultra-violet can be a particular hazard on bright days when it can reflect off the water. Sun-screen, floppy-hat and UV protective sunglasses are essential on these days. Drinking water and a snack are also recommended to be taken every time.

Trolleys and Recovery. Trolleys must have their boat’s sail number clearly marked and should also have a tally that corresponds to their boat’s flotilla. Adults assisting on the beach are to ensure trolleys are tidy, clear of the slipway, grouped by flotilla and, preferably, in number order. Boats tend to return to the beach in their flotillas but can arrive en masse. All adults on the beach must help at this busy time to recover boats and clear them from the slipway to make space for others; having the trolleys properly grouped makes a significant difference.

Boat Storage. The ability to leave ABs rigged inside the dry and secure Cruiser Shed is significant. It means boats can be prepared for sailing as quickly as practicable and then maintained in the best possible condition when not in use. However, space is limited and every sailor must help to ensure as many boats as possible can be kept inside. Boats must have their rudders removed (to reduce the footprint and to avoid damage), bungs and bailers must be open, and the boat be parked stern to and packed close against their neighbours. Clear space must be allowed for the Optimists and Picos on the racks. For safety, it is imperative that yellow hatched areas adjacent to the fire doors and a path to the main doors is kept entirely clear of any obstruction. Many ABs are decades old and have been used by generations and it is beholden on us to pass them on in good condition. Care must be taken when handling other people’s boats as well as your own and they must always be stored empty of water, which will quickly rot a wooden boat. Owners of GRP ABs with covers may prefer to keep their boats in the yard.

AB Association Loan Boat. The loan boat is currently unavailable (Updated Feb 2018), but we do hope to have it back again soon.

Race Results. The Principle Race Officer for each day’s racing collects race sheets and, having made any necessary clarifications, provides them to the Results Officer who enters them onto the [sailing results] system. Weekly results can then be analysed at the end of each season to determine class and season winners. An annual prize-giving ceremony is held in February to award the up to fifty cups, shields and other trophies owned by the AB fleet. The Results Officer provides weekly updates to the AB website page. Race results are ascribed to the registered helm for each boat; parents whose children have borrowed a boat or swapped helms and crews in their own boat must make this clear to the Results Officer.

Chocolate and Treats. Sailors on the water are encouraged and sometimes comforted by the distribution of chocolate and other sweets from the Race Committee boat and Safety Boats during Friday fun or in between races at the weekend.

Socials. The AB fleet is a very sociable organization. Regular events are organised throughout the year starting with a pre-season beach walk for the children and Parent’s supper in late April. The first Friday Fun of the season is followed by a fish and chip supper in the Cruiser Shed. Various barbecues and picnic expeditions occur throughout the season, but our biggest social event is an overnight Pirate Camp in June in the Purbecks. All members will be directly emailed about social events and they will also be advertised on the AB website.

Friday Fun. Throughout the Spring and Summer seasons there will generally be Friday Fun sessions. These are opportunities to learn some more sailing skills such as starts and up wind legs in a distinctly relaxed training environment.

Adult Participation. AB racing demands a high level of adult supervision on the water. In general a race day will involve parents acting as Principle Race Officer and assistants in the Committee Boat, Safety Officer and helm in a RIB and enough other RIBs and Jennys crewed by a helm and assistant. There must be sufficient safety boats for the number of ABs afloat, commensurate with the conditions, in accordance with RYA guidance. The ‘Dutyman’ roster on the AB website details all the roles and dates parents and guardians have been allocated. Regardless of the requirement for adults to stand duties, all children must have a parent or guardian on site.

Website. As well as the programme and Dutyman roster, this website has links to all kinds of other information and includes a page for buying and selling ABs.

Email list. All parents are encouraged to join the AB mailing group. (Go to that page, and send a request to subscribe). Updates will be sent out to inform parents if days are cancelled due to weather, or changes to the programme, or special announcements etc.

New members. Anyone wishing to join the AB class is welcome. New members are encouraged to contact the class captain.

We look forward to seeing you all on the water soon!