What with March coming in like a lion and blowing everyone all over the place it's the ideal time to take to the water under sail power. Although there's plenty on offer for the seasoned small boat owner in this weekend's Dinghy Sailing Show at Alexandra Palace there's also a determined effort to get new blood interested.
In case you have visions of a depressing afternoon mooching around clunky wooden toy boats and garish inflatables we should emphasise that this usage of the word "dinghy" is meant to denote small racing yachts in the sort of classes that get everybody terribly excited every four years as previously unheard of Britons snatch medals at the Olympic regatta. Laser, Finn, Tornado and 49er vessels will be amongst dozens of boats making an appearance alongside the show's other main attraction, a series of presentations and coaching sessions including "Learning to Sail", "Dinghy Cruising in Comfort" and "Tacking on the Shifts".
If you're already a seasoned afficionado you could certainly splash a lot of cash on the latest wetsuits, rash vests and beanies, but there's also advice on where to find your local sailing club and what to look for in a first boat at around the £250 mark. RYA Sailability will be at the show highlighting the many sailing opportunities open to people with a disability and for those who'd like some tuition to take home with them there is a wide selection of DVDs "that you can learn from and laugh at."
The VS-C1 simulator sounds to us, though, like it could be the honey pot of the show:
Essentially [it's] the cockpit of a dinghy, connected to a computer and a pneumatic ram. A screen depicts the boat’s movements on water, giving a sense of reality. Difficulty settings can be adjusted so that several different boats can be sailed, to suit the experience level of the user, giving experienced sailors the chance to practice tacking and gybing manoeuvres as well as starts and mark roundings, whilst novices will be able to experience operating a dinghy without the worry of capsizing.
We're right with them on the benefits of that. As the event's tagline runs, then, "All the Boats. All the Bits," at the Ally Pally on Saturday from 10am - 6pm and again on Sunday from 10 until 5pm. Tickets are £12 on both days for adults, while child admission is £6 on Saturday and free on Sunday if accompanied by an adult (under fives are free on both days).
Picture via Cabby's Flickr stream.