A SAILING club which secured tens of thousands of pounds worth of funding launched a new fleet of boats onto the water last Sunday.

The Enfield Scout Sailing Association, (ESSA) cut various ribbons at the 20 acre Central Lagoon, Meadgate Road, Nazeing, to celebrate having replaced half of its decrepit fleet of 40 over the past two years.

Enfield’s Youth Opportunities Fund chipped in £9,950 for a training powerboat equipped with satellite navigation system and also for a dinghy.

ESSA is a registered charity, which provides subsidised courses for scouting groups and training accredited by the Royal Yachting Association. It was originally set up by a group of scouts in the 1960s using the Banbury reservoir in the Lee Valley Park.

About 50 crew, all volunteers aged from 13 to 18, do everything from boat maintenance to sailing dinghies, sailboats and powerboats. Though they give their time for free, their formal training is subsidised by ESSA, and they are then encouraged to teach each other.

ESSA Principal Marion Caslake said the new fleet was “brilliant”, though she was still looking for £40,000 more to replace the remaining 20 fibreglass boats while she is also hoping to secure more funding to replace the crumbling clubroom.

She said: “We try to encourage the children to be independent and test themselves. Most of them come from a scouting background, so there is an understanding if they are mucking about they don’t get the privileges the others get.

“Sailing is a big responsibility, but you are putting that responsibility on the kids to do the right thing. "And the reward is that at 14 they can do a powerboat course and are allowed to drive a boat.”

Danny Allen, an ESSA trustee, said: “We want to get away from the idea that sailing is for people with lots of money and we want young people to get involved.”

The courses are run by qualified instructors and include coastal sailing, racing, canoeing and kayaking, seamanship, raft building, dragon boat sailing and windsurfing.

Starter sessions cost from £5.50 and sessions are held every month of the year except January.

Adult courses are also available and non-scouts can join.

For more information email marion@essa.org.uk