Fylde’s super sandyachting champion Ian Dibdin is relishing the prospect of windsports making a return to St Annes beach this weekend after a 12-year absence.
Ian, who won a British title in the sport 50 years after he clinched his first, will be among a group of around 18 taking part in a one-day landsailing demonstration on Saturday aimed to show Fylde Council officials that the sport can be staged safely.
It is the first step in a bid to bring back windsports to the beach after it was banned following an accident on the beach which claimed the life of Burnley mother-of-two Carole Cruz in 2002.
Organised by British Land Sailing with support from the British Land Sail Association, the event will run from 11am to 3pm on a 300m x 300m stretch of beach in front of North Beach car park.
The demonstration, supported by Fylde Council, will involve mini-yachts of the type already used safely at more than 10 UK beaches and much smaller than those in use at the time of the fatal accident 12 years ago.
Marshals with radios will patrol the beach and more than 50 bright-yellow warning signs will be displayed to alert members of the public, while further signs will be displayed at beach entrances and marshals will hand out leaflets explaining the event to members of the public.
Coun Sue Fazackerley, Fylde Council cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “We are pleased to see windsports on the beach but public safety has to be paramount.
“British Land Sailing has been in in-depth talks with the council and we believe we have addressed the safety concerns.
“Many beaches across Britain are now open for mini-yachts – a much smaller and slower version of the old sand yachts – and it is no secret that enthusiasts would like to see the sport return on a permanent basis in Fylde.
“This one-day event will not involve competitive racing. It will give everyone the chance to see mini-yachts in action and help us make decisions about possible future events.
“The council has been working hard to see the safe return of windsports and this event will hopefully show how a return can be safe and enjoyable for everyone – and good for tourism in the area.
“Ideally we would like to see enthusiasts form a club, perhaps along the lines of the former Fylde International Sand Yacht Club which played such an important part in the sporting scene in Fylde in former times.”
Ian said: “It will be great to see the sport back after all this time and we hope that by showing that it can be held safely, we can build on Saturday and re-establish a local club.
“Fylde has hosted top championships before and there is great potential to do that again, but it’s one step at a time and Saturday’s event is the first step at this stage.”