Volunteers Running an International Event

By Alice Thorogood

Credit: Corinne Whitehouse


The UK Cadet Class World Championships take place in Plymouth this summer. They are completely volunteer run. Alice Thorogood of Waldringfield Sailing Club explains what’s involved and how you can show your support for these young sailors:

How did we get into this? A personal introduction

My eldest, Gwen, was just eight when she first stepped onboard a Cadet with Waldringfield sailor Hattie Collingridge and disappeared across the Deben. We didn’t plan it, we had never thought about sailing as a hobby for our children; I’m not from a sailing background at all and though it turns out that my husband, Frank, has the water of the Deben in his veins, he too had very little experience of dinghy sailing. That world felt “other” to us, with its strange new language and an elitist image that felt slightly difficult to navigate. However, we were charmed by Hattie and her clear love of the sport, that teamed with the easy welcome of Waldringfield Cadet Squadron and we were as hooked as Gwen clearly seemed to be when she came bouncing up the beach all wide eyed and exuberant from her first taste of Cadet sailing.

But that’s Cadet sailors for you, they are a zealous bunch who love their sailing, love their boats and are practically evangelical about sharing their passion of these excellent double-handed youth dinghies.  They have a way of sucking you in and before you know it you are travelling the country (and the world!) with a boot full of sailing kit and towing a little boat of your own.

Spring forward another eight years and we are fully paid up members of the Cadet family. Our three children are all helms, we bought the Collingridge’s triple stacker trailer for Twocan, Pushing it and Boombastic and have been to world championships in Germany, Poland, Australia and Belgium. With our son Kemmel crewing for Toby Bush to win the 2022 Australian worlds.

I have sat on the UKNCCA (United Kingdom National Cadet Class Association) committee for five years, as welfare officer, social media bluffer and general goffer. Frank has moved on from Waldringfield Development Squad leader to chairing the UKNCCA committee and will finish his two-year term of office in the autumn. We are all in, my children are Cadets, their friends are Cadets, our friends are Cadet parents, we talk sailing constantly and don’t ever expect to come to our home and find it tidy!

The 2024 World Championship is in England this year

The 2024 World Championship in Plymouth this August will be Gwen’s final event as a Cadet sailor, I feel choked up just writing it. I can’t begin to explain to you what being part of this class has given my children; they are confident, they are self-reliant, and they are pretty good sailors. They have had a vein of freedom that has run through their childhood that I wish every child could experience. The very nature of the Cadet and the Cadet Class has given this to them; the magic of the older helm and younger crew partnership has meant that they learned to sail under the wings of some genuinely wonderful older children; we owe so much to Hazel Whittle, Olivia Gowland, Amelia Mayhew and Toby Bush who passed their own love of the Cadet on. It’s brilliant watching my three children pass this knowledge and joy of sailing on to their own little crews, Primrose, Georgina and Clementine.

The thing that shocked me the most about the Cadet Class is that all of it, ALL of the event organising, the training and planning is done by volunteers. All of it, from the squadrons to the UK committee and the international committee, the whole wonderful machine that is the Cadet Class is run by passionate parents and ex-cadets. It’s a not-for-profit organisation whose only reason for existing is to bring sailing to young people. We are affiliated to the RYA and are super-grateful for their financial help each year, but other than that small pot of money, the class is completely self-funding.

Alan Krailing of Waldringfield SC

What’s involved in organising such an event?  Who does it?

I think that is why I still can’t quite believe that this summer we have chosen to take on the herculean task of organising and hosting the 2024 international Cadet World Championship. This is a major event that will see around 200 young sailors from across the globe come together in Plymouth, the home of British sailing, for a two-week regatta, first competing in the UK Nationals and then the International Cadet Worlds. As an old stalwart of the Cadets I for one can’t wait to see youth sailors from Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic and maybe (just maybe) India parade alongside our UK competitors in the colourful opening ceremony on the Mount Batten Peninsula. These sailors – old friends and new – will march accompanied by a Naval Band and stand together as we raise each country’s flag and say our rather old-fashioned, but strangely more relevant than ever, Cadet Promise.

“As a Cadet member of the International Cadet Class I promise to observe the class rules and at all times to further the aims of the class.
I shall do my best to foster understanding and friendship throughout the world.
I shall never attempt to win a race by any means other than fair sailing

This celebration of youth sailing at the Mount Batten Centre, headed up by Waldringfield Sailor Alan Krailing and in conjunction with Plymouth Youth Sailing, has been three years in the making and will be the accumulation of many, many hours of volunteer work. With sailors and their support teams of parents and coaches we are expecting around 1000 people at the event.

What are the Challenges?

Together as a class, with Alan and Frank at the helm, we are navigating our way through uncharted waters and pulling hard together to showcase UK Youth Sailing at its finest. I am sure those on the committee, who have attended previous worlds, won’t mind me saying that we are starting to feel the pressure. Australia and Belgium in particular put on events that really captured the spirit of the Cadet Family. They offered excellent sailing, great locations, and plenty of opportunity for our sailors to mix with each other and for the adults to relax and of course socialise. Alan must feel like he is constantly on a zoom call, we have working parties and sub-committees covering all aspects of event management. Clearly the important group being the sailing committee, whose job it is to put on a world class competition. Bringing in international judges, measurers and a jury which adhere to World Sailing’s exacting specifications is difficult at the best times, but with many of our regular officials shooting off to Paris to help with the Olympics it has proved to be more difficult than we first expected. Yes we are a small class, but we still compete on an exceptionally high level.

Deborah Sherwood of Frensham Pond Sailing Club

Another integral part of the smooth running of the event is the on-shore committee. Working alongside The Mount Batten Centre is the ever-hard-working Deb Sherwood from Frensham Cadet Squadron. It is the job of Debs and her team to make sure our international guests have places to stay, that we have food to eat and that we know where to go, when. They are also asked to create a social calendar that will make the UK World Championship an event that will go down in history…no pressure there then! She is also working with a local artist and the RNLI on a specially commissioned piece of artwork that will be made into prints for us to sell and for the local RNLI to use in their 2025 fundraising calendar. The social calendar will include all the usuals like the much anticipated international night, a sailor’s disco and this year we are linking up with Plymouth Sound National Marine Park to bring a series of talks from inspirational sailors in the aquarium. There will also be some events to give back to the locality, including a beach clean.

Other groups contributing to the organisation are the communication committee, a sailor safeguarding and welfare team, an opening ceremony team, welcome pack creators and of course the sponsorship team. We are a small group, many of us sitting on more than one committee, all giving time and expertise for free.

Why do we need sponsorship? A professional photographer, a well equipped on-the-water support vessel, the extras that make us proud to host these World Championships

Sponsorship should perhaps have been the very first committee on my list, because without some additional outside help, none of this is going to come together as we hope.  Yes, the event will run but there’s a danger that the polish, the cherry-on-the-cake stuff that will make the 2024 Cadet World Championship an event that will showcase UK Youth Sailing won’t happen. We can run the event on income from entries, but we really need help with things like a photographer or even better a film maker to capture the event and leave the class with a legacy of footage to promote the Cadet and bring more young sailors into the Class.

Other things are more practical, like a mother ship – for on- the-water welfare needs. This can be for any number of support issues – needing to use the loo, for instance – contrary to what you might be told, not everyone can get by during long hours out on the water by peeing in their wetsuit. Think of a girl on her period, for instance. The Cadet Class has a growing number of female sailors – more than half our young sailors are girls. A young sailor may have forgotten his or her sandwiches, need an extra pair of gloves or have an on-the-water accident that needs immediate first aid. The ‘Mother Ship’ – or welfare boat really matters. Yes, of course we’ll find something to use, but with sponsorship – either in kind or in cash – this could a proper support boat. Maybe we could even welcome some of our sponsors on board to view the racing!


The cost of the event is eye watering. The basic package of safety boats, judges, mark-layers etc. comes to a whopping £50K. When you start to look at “wants” (eg a good quality support boat, professional level photography) as well as “needs” the costs are more like £60K.

Can you help us raise this?  Why should you?  My answer would be that this is not just about my children and their companions but sailing for young people generally and pride in our participation in a high-level international event. A good event becomes part of the legacy to hand on.

As Alan Krailing says

“The Cadet World Championship this summer will be the culmination of nearly 3 years of planning and preparation from a small but dedicated group of organisers.

We are completely reliant on the generous support of volunteers to make the event a success and we need lots of them! Around 80 people are needed each day to launch and recover over 100 boats, start and finish the races, lay the race buoys, provide on the water safety, record the results the list goes on.”

Asking for help is always a difficult task, but I truly believe it is a real opportunity for organisations and individuals to part of the future of British sailing. The Cadet Class have and continue to churn out some of the best sailors in the world, you will find them in the Navey, on board boats like Maiden Factor in the Ocean Globe Race, they were part of the China.Ningbo team winning Match Racing World Championships in 2023, you will find them on America’s cup boats and in the British Racing Team with Olympic Dreams.  You will also find our alumni coaching and teaching and giving back to sailing all over the world. The Cadet Class is Small but We Are Mighty, we have big dreams and we are proud to instil a love and a passion in our sailors that lasts a lifetime. Many Cadet parents know personally what a difference this made to them as youngsters.

Credit: Corinne Whitehouse

How can you help – with £10 and a message of support? Or more??

We want you to be part of this epic adventure and have come up with a number of ways for you to sponsor, both big and small.

Sponsors Golden Duck Publishing are putting together our souvenir program and there is space for you to write a message to the sailors and the class, for a small donation of course. We suggest £10 for an individual – yes this includes proud grandparents and friends – or £25 for an organisation. All the event participants will be given this programme and they will know that you were behind them. We hope they’ll keep this for many years.

Please donate via GoFundMe and we’ll email you for your personal message:


Additional sponsorship

Or maybe you would like to sponsor a safety RIB or like, unlikely supporters, Llandow Caravan Park, who support the launch trollies?

The information and links on helping out can be found here: https://cadetworlds.co.uk/sponsorship

Of course, there is space for a bigger partnership and if you would like to chat to us about that opportunity then please email [email protected]


The UK National Cadet Class Championship and World Championship:

Sat, 27 Jul 2024 – Fri, 9 Aug 2024

Credit: Corinne Whitehouse