suepearson1Sue Pearson

The family joined Dell Quay Sailing Club in the early 1960’s so I have been a member for over 55 years.

I started sailing when I was 12, My Dad (Alfie Yellowley) built a Mirror dinghy from a kit. He was encouraged to include a suit of sails in the package by my sister Jean and I. I had read Swallows and Amazons and sailing didn’t seem too hard. The boat was built, the sails were put up and after a few trials on the lawn, Jean and I were pushed off the hard at Dell Quay with the advice not to hit anything.    
The maiden voyage was a success and I was keen to do more. My school friend Penny Pascal sailed a Cadet with her brothers and she encouraged me to go sailing with the Club. I watched and copied what Penny did following her every move around the buoys and soon became part of the junior fleet.  This comprised mainly boys from Chichester High School who had been taught to sail and we all became a close-knit group and remain friends to this day. A girl helming was something of a rarity in those days.

I had been brought up near to the sea, but not on boats. I knew the tide came in and went out and the sea could be calm or wavy and I learned to respect it from an early age. I was used to swimming in the sea too which proved to be a useful skill when the gybe didn’t go quite to plan. I cannot remember being frightened as a beginner, I can however remember being exhilarated by some high speed downwind legs, a reward for all that effort sitting out on the windward leg up to Longmore and that encouraged me to go out again. I was rather more nervous manoeuvring the family cruiser into tight berths. Parking the big boat in a marina usually with spectators who once they saw it was a woman at the helm seem to pop up to watch the entertainment, still does make me a little anxious until I tell myself I’ve done it perfectly before and I can do it again!

After several successful seasons as a Junior in the Mirror, it was time to join the big boys and the Firefly racing fleet. Dad built me a beautiful boat F3155, named My Beau. The large fleets and class racing at Dell Quay and around the harbour honed my racing skills and with two bailing buckets and an energetic crew, I could catch up after a dunking at the gybe mark.  After University racing in a Merlin Rocket, I found myself a very able swimmer to crew for me and we acquired a Fireball called Obsession which was probably why we bought it. More racing at Dell Quay and in the Harbour with some truly spectacular planing reaches during Federation Week at Hayling Island when I could not see despite sheltering behind Barrie who acted as a spray deflector are etched on my memory.
It was on a camping trip to Salcombe and on a walk out to Bolt Head Barrie and I watched yachts making their way into the estuary. “That looks like fun” I said, ‘There is the challenge of navigating your way along the coast, you can keep dry and have a comfortable bed to sleep in overnight’.  In 1977 “Fairwind of Dell Quay’’ a Moody 30 was purchased, sailed back from Southampton and horizons were broadened.  

suepearson2Evening classes in navigation were followed by a move back to West Sussex and our family travels in Fairwind began and memories made. We have sailed to Normandy, Brittany and the Channel Islands on our own and in company with other DQSC cruisers. We crewed Dell Quay friends from Chichester Marina across Biscay to Spain on the first leg of their trip across the Atlantic and chartered boats in Greece, Turkey and The British Virgin Islands.  

Fairwind in Braye Harbour, Alderney during the Fastnet race storm 13 August 1979. Photograph by Barrie Pearson

I am in my happy place bobbing about on the water. There is so much to look at and watch, no two days are the same and there is always something to learn. There is the sense of freedom and nothing can beat the very satisfactory sense of achievement when you reach your destination having harnessed the energy of the wind and tides to get you there.

What roles/activities have you participated in at DQ?
I have been a member of the Cruiser committee since November 2006, on the Regatta committee for 13 years, been a race officer several times and more recently helped out at Junior Week keeping an eye on grandchildren enjoying the excellent tuition.

If you want to get out on the water, come to Dell Quay, the waters here are sheltered and land is close by. It is a very friendly Club, find yourself a buddy and take it in easy stages if you are nervous.  Watch videos so you know what to expect. If sailing turns out not to be your thing there are plenty of other ways of getting out on the water, paddle boarding, kayaking, rowing and power boats. It is one of the best ways to make lasting friendships.

suepearson3The cruiser section organises a variety of rallies, ranging from a local day sail to longer distance cruises lasting a few weeks to France, the Channel Islands or the West Country with overnight trips to Solent destinations in between; there is something for everyone and the camaraderie and support is second to none.
Every day offers something new, a warm and sunny day with a perfect sailing breeze, a pod of dolphins playing on the bow wave, a stunning sunset, mist over the water in the morning; all this is what makes messing about in boats such a joy. Being able to share these experiences with our children and now their children makes the memories even more special.

Fairwind picking up a mooring in Hugh Town, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly 15 July 2013. Photograph by Bill Greening aboard Niobe.

Sue Pearson



Meet Manon, Dinghy instructor, pico sailor and her mother, Gill who reflects on the camaraderie and wonderful scenery at Dell Quay


manonManon Francis-Braconi, age 17, qualified Dinghy Instructor for single handed boats. Happy as a crew or helm.

I have been a member and sailor at Dell Quay since I was five. I started sailing in an optimist and now sail a laser pico.

At Dell Quay everyone is really enthusiastic and willing to help. Everyone just wants to have fun and enjoy themselves.

My message to girls who are starting to sail and feel a bit nervous is that it is always scary at first but it is easier than it looks and just takes practice. Also, the boys are probably just as scared as you they just hide it a bit better!

Three items that I always take with me when sailing are sailing gloves, a waterproof watch and chocolate – depending on how wet I am going to get.


Sailing has given me an array of benefits; a community, exercise, sport, friends. The DI qualification has enabled me to practice presenting and passing on skills and teaching. Sailing has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I am always learning!

An aspect of sailing that used to scare me is sailing in high winds alone!
If I was sailing to a desert island the three things I would take would be: fresh water, a snack and satellite phone.

I definitely prefer a leisurely sail all the way.

In general I can tie about four knots give or take, depending on if I have to take them to other people in half an hour.



Gill Francis – age 56, sailing level intermediate and very competent!

I have been an enthusiastic sailor for 45 years. I began sailing in a mirror dinghy and now sail a pico.

The best thing about sailing at Dell Quay is the camaraderie and beautiful scenery. My message to younger girls who feel nervous about sailing is to go for it because it is loads of fun!

When I go sailing I always take a buoyancy jacket and chocolate (and alcohol!). Sailing has given me exercise and a sense of achievement. An aspect of sailing that used to scare me is capsizing.

If I was sailing to a desert island I would take a satellite phone, water and food.

Between racing and leisure – it’s an easy choice. Leisurely sail every time.  

I can tie five knots.