AOTW Crew Camp - 15th/16th August 2020
At long last - we were delighted to finally welcome our brand new crew up to Port Edgar near Edinburgh for our first Crew Camp together. Claire Watson, Ellie Clark, Tilly Matthews and our media guru Georgie Pritchard all made the effort and commitment even during these strange times to come and enjoy weekends sailing together as a team.
As a team, we straight away got on well. On day 1 we hoisted our beautiful Hyde Sails which were donated by David and Kim Witt of Professional Yachting Services Hong Kong last year and spent an enjoyable afternoon all taking turns at roles on the boat and practising many hoists, drops, gybes and tacks. On Day 2 we made it more challenging for ourselves by doing more sprint type courses which tested the crew's physical strength and speed. This was followed by taking part in an informal race run by Port Edgar Yacht Club which we have predicted to have won!
We are so very proud of our new team - their performance onboard was outstanding and there not only committed to all the racing we plan to do in 2021 but they are also passionate about helping autistic people access sailing and are looking forward to welcoming guest autistic people for small races in the future.
We'd like to express our sincere thanks to Port Edgar Marina Ltd. Saildoctor Ltd. and Riggerous for all their help with boat preparation, sail preparation, berthing, craning etc.
All photos below are owned by Georgie Pritchard and must not be used without permission. https://georgiepritchardfilms.co.uk
COVID 19 UPDATE
The entire team of AOTW would like to apologise for the long delay in our website being updated during the Coronavirus Pandemic. As of March 2020, the UK was placed into Lockdown and for the safety of the general public and to protect the NHS and emergency services - the vast majority of sailing events for 2020 have been cancelled which has included pretty much all of AOTW's planned schedule for this year. The charity has followed on from government guidelines by taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our crew, our autistic participants, trustees, volunteers etc.
Our Crinan Canal trip which was scheduled for May has now been cancelled and moved to a new date of 22nd-23rd May 2021. Scottish Canals and Argyll Backpackers have been an absolute pleasure to deal with in the rescheduling of this event and Pam of Argyll Backpackers has been an absolute superstar in accommodating us for next year - there has been a slight change of plan, following feedback from participants we have changed the accommodation for a ONE NIGHT STAY instead of two nights. We have already emailed interested parties for the event but if you have not received the email and have paid for your accommodation, please get in touch with us.
It has been a massive disappointment to see everything being cancelled for this year but we understand that the safety of everyone is of the highest priority. However, AOTW has been working very hard behind the scenes on a number of projects for 2021 which we will announce in the coming days. In the meantime, we'd like to express our sincere condolences to the families who have lost loved ones during this pandemic and say a big thank you to all the essential services for doing all they can to protect us during this time.
Stay Safe from all of us at AOTW
CLOUD NINE YACHT CHARTERS - OUR NEWEST SPONSOR FOR AOTW
We are absolutely delighted to welcome David Robertson and Cloud Nine Yacht Charters as a new sponsor to Autism on the Water
Davey Robertson is an experienced sailor from Oban who runs the successful yacht charter business with his Elan 434. Davey's association with not just the charity but with founder Murray MacDonald goes way back as Davey used to race with and against Murray's late father Kenny for many years on a variety of racing yachts named "Aperitif" which included a First Class 8 & 10, a Contessa 27, a Grand Soleil 34 and a Hunter 707! It is quite unique to learn that Davey purchased one of the very first 707 Class Association boats as brand new back in the early 1990s as a construction kit which he assembled together himself and raced very successfully for many years which included many of The Scottish Islands Peaks Races which involved sailing overnight and around tough waters such as the Mull of Kintyre!
Cloud Nine Yacht Charters have very generously offered to provide us with the use of their Elan 434 when not being used for charters to be used for taking Autistic people for day trips out of Oban during the summer and in addition, Cloud Nine will be our sponsors for the HYDE SAILS 707 UK Nationals in August which seems an appropriate and perfect event for Davey to help us with seeing as he owned one of the very first 707s!
Murray said "the charity is growing and growing every day with more and more new support coming in, to have Davey and Cloud 9 onboard supporting us is really wonderful! We are very grateful to Davey for very kindly stepping in to support AOTW, he has been a fan of the charity for quite some time and its even more touching for me personally as he was a friend of my late Dad who was a keen sailor in Oban and they had great racing against each other, we look forward to working with Davey and his team throughout the summer in particularly with planning day trips from Oban for autistic people on his well-equipped yacht".
CRINAN CANAL WEEKEND - 15TH-17TH MAY 2020
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED!
Thanks to the generosity of recently being awarded a grant from the Robertson's Trust Funding for Wee Groups. Autism on the Water is delighted to be organising another trip on the Crinan Canal but this time it is a whole WEEKEND! We have 4 yachts taking part. Spaces are limited to 50 people. With free transport on offer from Glasgow and Edinburgh, discounted accommodation, a free welcome reception, a free barbecue etc. We want to encourage early booking! If you would like to be part of this, please email email@example.com for a copy of a booking form! Or visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/autismonthewater
AOTW Founder recognised for sailing performance!
Our founder Murray MacDonald attended the Port Edgar Yacht Club Annual Prizegiving and was delighted to accept the prestigious Cork 2000 Trophy. This trophy was awarded for the best overall performance out with the Club's racing and Murray was awarded this for Autism on the Water's spectacular win during both West Highland Week and the 707 Sprints Slam.
RYA SCOTLAND AWARDS 2020
As previously mentioned, we were absolutely honoured and delighted that our founder Murray MacDonald was shortlisted for an RYA Award, the prestigious Elizabeth MacKay award. This award is awarded to the sailor who has brought inclusivity into the sport.
However, for now, this was not our time to win it and the well-deserved winner was Robyn Phillips from Aberdeen Sailing Trust. Everyone in the charity wishes to congratulate Robyn for all her achievements and efforts in the programme that she runs.
Although sad that we did not win, to be shortlisted was something that we are so very proud of. It just shows that Autism on the Water is now very much recognised and who knows, maybe one day we will win an award, but we do not do this for awards, we do it to change lives so once again from all at AOTW a massive THANK YOU to the RYA Scotland for shortlisting us.
We have been Recognised by the RYA!
It is a fantastic honour that Autism on the Water has been shortlisted for an RYA Scotland Award!
The award is the Elizabeth MacKay Award which helps provide inclusivity and accessibility within the sport of sailing. This truly is a prestigious award and once again we are so honoured to be shortlisted and also grateful to those who nominated us for it!
We will find out the result on the 25th January at the RYA Scotland Awards Dinner where the winners will be announced!
707 Scottish Championships!
A Fantastic Final Weekend's racing of the year!
The final sailing event of the year for Autism on the Water was the Coast to Coast Rigging 707 Scottish Championships which were held in late October at Port Edgar Yacht Club.
Cold was the weather, but it did not stop a fantastic turn out of 23 boats for this event which was brilliant for this time of year. With a well-drilled crew on board, AOTW started race 1 in breezy conditions with a fantastic committee boat end start by finding a gap and tacking away and this paid off big time as we took an excellent WIN! The rest of the competitors were quite surprised to see us fly away from everyone and take the winning gun! With lightning winds for the remainder of the day, the rest of the days results were slightly disappointing but no one could undo Race 1's win and for us that was a big achievement for us!
Day 2 dawned with a strong tide and light winds but increased throughout the day that saw us work our way back up the fleet to achieve modest results. The racing was so close that at the windward mark in one of the races, everyone arrived together which caused a lot of shouting and a few bumps occurring. AOTW finished 12th overall in the event which was a very modest way to finish what has been an outstanding sailing season.
Said Murray, "We are very happy with how the last event went for us, AOTW has come a long way within the 707 fleet, to once come consistently last in all races and now mixing it with some of the top boats is really fantastic and to win the first race was magic! It showed everyone that we are able to do it even after our fantastic event with the Scallywag team at the event, thanks to our experience of learning from Witty and the boys, we are now confident to go out on the race course and achieve some wins!
I must express our sincerest thanks to Owen Sails who sponsored our costs for the event and to the crew of Ramsay, Ben, Iain and Rory who worked very hard together. I am sad that the season is now over but I am also looking forward to a nice break and planning an even bigger year for the charity in 2020".
THANK YOU COCA-COLA!
In October, we were very pleasantly surprised to receive a generous donation from world-renowned drinks company Coca-Cola! Their colleague Ross Fullarton who has links to the charity through sailing with our founder Murray in the past very kindly recommended that their donation to a small charity went to Autism on the Water. We are sincerely grateful to all within Coca-Cola for their contribution. The charity relies heavily on donations and sponsorship to keep our activities and awareness making going and every little helps and the money they have donated to the charity will be going to help create more autistic involved activities for 2020. Thank you once again from all at Autism on the Water!
Owen Sails sponsor AOTW for 707 Scottish Championships
We are delighted to announce that Owen Sails agreed to be our sponsors for the final sailing event of the year which is the Coast to Coast Rigging Ltd 707 Scottish Championships.
Owen Sails are a large independent Sailmakers based at Tralee Bay just outside Oban, our founder Murray has had a long association with the company with various family members working at Owen Sails through the years.
We are extremely grateful to partners Diana Shellcock and John Grant who are extremely generous in helping us out as we head to the start line one last time this year to spread awareness on the race course. We are also delighted to welcome Ben Miller on board who works at Owen Sails as a manager and will be racing with us, Ben has sailed a few times with AOTW and has been a supporter of the charity since its inception.
Head to www.owensails.com for more information on their products, they also supply quality covers, rigging etc. to suit your boating requirements.
Scotland's Boat Show
Autism on the Water had a very successful two days at Scotland's Boat Show at Inverkip. After a slow start on the first day, we had a very busy second day where many visitors came over and spoke to us about the charity and we were delighted to meet up with a representative from Scottish Canals and we will be announcing plans for further canal trips in 2020.
We also spoke to people from the charity Able2Sail and also from Prestwick Sailing Club about ideas to work in partnership with Autism on the Water.
It was a very worthwhile show to exhibit it and establish contacts for the charity. We also raised £55 from the day through donations. We look forward to returning in 2020 to exhibit again.
Autism on the Water goes to Wales!
In September, we did something we had never done before with Autism on the Water. We travelled to Cardiff in Wales to exhibit at The Autism Directory Show. This is one of the biggest shows in the UK dedicated to Autism and thanks to the generosity of charity supporter Venetia Edmunds, we travelled south to publicise, network and raise further awareness of Autism on the Water.
We had a fantastic day in Cardiff City Stadium with over 2,000 visitors to the show and over 400 of which visited our well set up stand. We were thrilled to meet many parents, carers, people on the spectrum etc. all showed a massive interest in AOTW and all were really keen for us to set up a sailing day in Wales.
We also raised a modest total of £102.32 through the sale of our merchandise, competition entry to win a weekend in Edinburgh and our Lucky Dip.
We once again extend our sincere thanks to Venetia for all her help and support of our charity and she also joined us for the show. We'd also like to thank Olivia Pullman who travelled to Cardiff with us too to assist with the show and to The Autism Directory for making us feel so welcome.
With such a great response to our presence at the show, we are delighted to announce that we will be back again in 2020!
AUTISM ON THE WATER!
After many months, the big weekend finally arrived as we greeted our ambassador and special guests David Witt along with his wife Kim and crew Charlie Wyatt and James Crampton of SHK Scallywag.
The team travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the Port Edgar Watersports 707 Sprints Slam sponsored for us by The Foggy Pear Craft Company. David, Charlie, James and Ramsay Lechuars along with our director Murray raced against 19 other 707s over the weekend in some very tight and close one-design racing.
After a day of rig tuning, general maintenance and testing our beautiful brand new set of Hyde Sails courtesy of David and Kim, AOTW were greeted to perhaps the most perfect days sailing that Scotland could give. With cloudless blue skies, sunshine and a perfect 12kts of wind which increased to over 20kts throughout the day, the team had a splendid day on the water and shone with some excellent starts that produced four 1st places, the first time we ever won races in the 707 class! By the end of Day 1, AOTW was lying 2nd overall.
Day 2 dawned overcast with lighter winds and rain with a strong tide. A disaster of a start to the first race saw us disqualified for being over the line followed by a couple of rocky results after. But throughout the day the team fought back to scrape some 3rd and 4th places to finish a very satisfying 4th overall out of 20 boats in total. We were disappointed to have not done better but the overall goal for us was to finish in the top 5 placings and we achieved that to which we are delighted.
Autism on the Water would like to extend our sincerest thanks to David, Kim and the rest of both Team Scallywag and Professional Yachting Services Hong Kong for all their kindness, generosity, teaching and of course our new sails. Going forward, we will continue to be associated with this wonderful sailing team who have offered advice on how to continue pushing the charity forward.
We sincerely hope that David and team will consider returning to Scotland in 2020 for another 707 regatta. Until then we will take all their knowledge that we learnt from their visit and will proudly continue to display the beautiful #ForeverFish logo on our 707 in memory of David's best friend John Fisher who was sadly lost during the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018.
SCOTTISH TWO HANDED RACE
We were deeply saddened that we did not make the start line of the Scottish Two Handed Race run by Fairlie Yacht Club from Largs Yacht Haven. An attempt was made to deliver Autism on the Water from Inverkip to Largs the day before the race but bad weather of strong winds and big seas forced us to retreat back to the shelter of Kip Marina. However we were kindly loaned the use of "Ventura" a beautiful Bavaria 33 cruiser by AOTW crewmember Graham Cannell.
Despite an effort to start the race which was a 40nm race to Holy Isle and back, gusts reached 37kts which caused alot of difficulty amongst the fleet and the two crew made the decision to retire from the race for safety reasons and retreat back to Largs for an ice cream!
Whilst we are sad that AOTW was unable to compete, the weekends weather certainly showed that within our charity, safety is of our highest priority and will always come first no matter what. We plan to be back again to Largs in 2020 for another go at the race and praying for better weather!
WE ARE HEADING TO WALES!
Autism on the Water is heading to what will be our first public event, exhibiting at The Welsh Autism Show in Cardiff. Back by an anonymous donor, we will be at the show answering any questions about what we do for the charity, there will be many photographs, videos as well as merchandise for sale and a special Lucky Dip competition with great prizes.
We are very excited to be making this trip to what is the UK's most popular show for Autism. It will also be a chance for us to network with many of the wonderful exhibitors at the show and learn their own stories of Autism and the awareness of it. If you are at the show, please come and say hello!
CRINAN CANAL - ONCE AGAIN A SUCCESS!
On Saturday 24th August, 4 people on the autistic spectrum once again made a special trip on board our Hunter 707 yacht through the tranquil Crinan Canal but this time in the opposite direction from Crinan Basin to Ardrishaig Basin. It was touch and go whether the trip would go ahead as windy weather conditions the previous day nearly saw Autism on the Water turn back towards Oban however the crew of both our founder Murray and autistic crewmember Max pushed onwards and thankfully the weather calmed down enabling them to make safe passage through the Dorus Mhor towards Crinan Harbour.
The 4 participants and their families had a great day transitting the canal with all taking turns at lock gate opening, throwing and catching ropes and driving the boat. All who came had an absolutely fantastic time especially getting the chance to steer the boat, some of which had never had the opportunity to do so before until then. We were also photographed by the Argyll Advertiser Newspaper as we travelled through the canal.
With sincere thanks to all the volunteers who helped us on this trip and especially to Scottish Canals for allowing us to organise this day and for their charity discount on the passage through.
WE ARE GOING BACK ALONG THE CRINAN CANAL!
After such a fantastic and successful trip earlier in the year, we are once again hosting a day out on the Crinan Canal this time from Crinan to Ardrishaig for people with autism of all ages. The trip is free however donations would be greatly accepted. Please book to guarantee your place! Please email for a copy of our registration form!
WEST HIGHLAND YACHTING WEEK 2019
We made a very welcome return to West Highland Week which this year was kindly supported for us by David Sturrock Yachting. We had a fantastic 8 days of racing in often light and shifty winds and once more we raised awareness especially as we collected our first-ever wins with our boat since we purchased it last year! We are deeply proud that we achieved this and full credit must go to the entire crew who worked very hard all throughout the week to make this happen. We finished an outstanding 5th overall in Class 5!