“There is nothing - absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats”
Ahoy! Welcome to the University of Sussex Sailing Club, USSC for short, but don’t confuse us with the surf club. If you’re interested in boats, in sails, in the sea, in racing, in cruising, in keelboats, in dinghies or anything vaguely similar, this is the place for you! Surfers however, you’ve stumbled across the wrong USSC…
Linked with Sussex Yacht Club in Shoreham (established in 1892; its boats are even allowed to fly the Royal Ensign, that’s how legit it is), and Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club (with bases in Seaford, Newhaven and Piddinghoe village), we’ve created a place where anyone and everyone can go sailing – from the complete “never been on a boat before” beginner to the pro racer, and everything in between.
On Wednesday afternoons (weather dependent, as is most of what we do) we head over on a coach to Piddinghoe pond (it's a lake really!), where we take out dinghies. We have access to a number of boats, from toppers and picos, to Sport-14s which are double-handers. We have a number of voluntary Dinghy Instructors among us who run these sessions, under the leadership of our two Dinghy Secretaries Angelica and Jack. This means our dinghy sessions are 100% beginner friendly - zero experience necessary. We provide the boats, the buoyancy aids, safety boat cover at all times, and the instruction. You bring yourself, a change of clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and a sense of adventure! Don’t be afraid to get wet, you might fall in, but that’s all part of the fun. Piddinghoe has hot showers and a heated changing room, so bring a towel and a change of clothes just in case. For the able sailors among you, Jack is an experienced Race Coach, and along with our our DIs, can help you develop your sailing skills.
Sundays (and sometimes Saturdays too now!) are yacht sailing time. Often starting with an early wake-up, we head over to Southwick (near Shoreham), and crew on the yachts of Sussex Yacht Club members. The boats vary widely - in size for one thing, and also in their attitude to racing, and how well-crewed they are. Some boats are very chill about racing, and just do it for fun so aren’t too driven by winning, and more by the taking part. They often have the time during a race to show you the ropes, and let you have a go at different roles on the boat. Some of these boats are also well-crewed already, so won’t be relying on your input. Other boats are lacking in crew and require competent sailors to help them sail. Some boats turn up every week with the aim to win, and will push you hard to be a useful member of the crew. The most important thing to take from that is this: we will put you on a boat that matches your abilities, so you will be comfortable, learn lots, and have a great time. Students often form great relationships with skippers and crew, and find themselves a ‘usual’ boat.
Life jackets will always be provided (use of life jackets is mandatory), and sometimes skippers have spare kit to lend out if you don’t have proper salopettes or sailing jackets. Otherwise, plenty of layers are recommended, shoes with a light coloured sole to avoid marking the white decks, and waterproofs. It’s always important to remember that it’s far colder out at sea than on land, even on a warm day, so always bring 2-3 layers extra.
SYC and NSSC are both RYA training centres, so there are plenty of opportunities to gain qualifications. Over the past two years we’ve put members through courses such as VHF radio, Day Skipper Theory, Powerboat Level 2, and Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Theory. All of these have been at well-discounted prices. We do our best to offer as many training opportunities as possible, but they usually rely on a minimum number of interested students. You can talk to our Training Secretary Will if you’re interested in gaining some qualifications.
Apart from sailing, and knocking back (very cheap) drinks in the clubhouse afterwards, our club’s activities also include:
- Excellent socials (because who does rowdy parties better than pirates, I mean, sailors?)
- Attending sailing events (Cowes Week, the Royal Escape, Sussex Regatta, etc)
- Weekend or summer trips (bareboat yacht charter in Greece, see our youtube video of our 2016 trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH2VMzcqFhI)
We also collaborate with 4 other similar societies under the name Sussex Watersports, and periodically hold large group socials, such as our huge t-shirt pub crawl which returned this year at the beginning of October, with over 80 attendees.
Everyone is welcome to join our club, including staff and both Sussex and Brighton University students. You can have up to two taster sessions per sailing type before you buy a membership, and they can be purchased for £5 in advance of a session. Once you've bought a membership, you will need to fill in a copy of our membership form for us, and so we can pass your details on to our partner club(s) for your membership with them too. If you want to get involved but aren't a student at Sussex, join our Facebook group to see all our events, and if you would like to buy membership, go to the Activities Office in Falmer House and ask to purchase an associate membership of the club.
If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can drop us an email at email@example.com and we'll get back to you, or contact us via our Facebook group.
Otherwise, fair winds, calm seas, and may Neptune always smile upon you.
- Paintballing, date tbc ...
- Pryzm - "Royalty, Regality and Revelry!" theme - dress in your finery and meet us at Falmer bar at 9pm on the 18th Oct, before we head to Pryzm for Sports Night