Orkney, like many of the Island groups that participate in the Island Games, has a strong maritime tradition. From the Hudson Bay Trading Company coming here as a last port of call, taking on water and supplies, and picking up crew from the willing (and sometimes not so willing) locals to the oil industry to, more recently, the renewable energy industry the sea has always been an important part of the life of Orkney.
And that applies equally to spending leisure time on the sea, with a number of sailing clubs around the Isles and three Sailing Clubs on the Mainland (the name we locals give to our main island). These are located in St Mary’s village, more often called Holm, pronounced Ham, Stromness and Kirkwall. All active and with a small but dedicated membership each holds race series throughout the summer months. Taking advantage of the more peaceable weather these are often held in the evening on our long summer days.
OSC’s clubhouse is located on the harbour front in Kirkwall and is known as the Girnel. This ‘B’ listed building was purchased by OSC in the early 1970s The building, which was built in the 1640s as a grain store was recently refurbished with the help of a grant from Historic Environment Scotland. This allowed original features to be maintained and original building methods to be used.
As well as the Girnel Clubhouse, OSC now operates most of its training and dinghy sailing from the Hatston Slipway. We are lucky to have a large wide slipway for several dinghies to launch from simultaneously, as well as a large boat compound with purpose built training facility with changing rooms with showers, teaching rooms, large storage workshop facility and starters cabin for coordinating weekly racing.
As well as weekly racing for members from Spring through to Autumn the Club host several regattas throughout the year and helps other local clubs run events. The OSC is also a recognised RYA Training Centre with the facilities to train adults and juniors to sail as well as provide many shore-based courses. As the only RYA Training Centre in Orkney OSC also provides traning to Orkney’s other sailing clubs.
OSC hosted the UK Snipe National Championship in August 2017. This saw 21 boats competing, having come from across the UK and also France and Belgium. The three day event was a huge success, and allowed the club to showcase the great sailing facilities as well as the commitment and experience of the club’s officials and members.