If you grow up in or on the outskirts of a large city such as London, Manchester or Liverpool, windsurfing probably isn’t the first activity you’d think to have a go at or even think possible. Many of us that live or work within a city environment, equally probably don’t think a sport like Windsurfing would be an option. But year on year, inner city waters introduce thousands of people to the joys of windsurfing and being out on the water.
Ok, so you’re not going to get mast high waves and miles of golden beach, but is that actually what we need all of the time? After a hard day in the office, pounding the tread mill can feel pretty soulless……..so what better way to wind down than on the water, rig in hand, water lapping under foot….aaahhhhhh, my mind is drifting as I write!
In an attempt to convert and persuade, the RYA’s Chief Windsurfing Instructor, Amanda Van Santen is going to take you on a whistle stop tour of just a few of the patches of water in and around our cities, helping you get on the water whether beginner, improver, inspiring racer, or company looking to offer you employees with Watersports club opportunities and benefits.
Admittedly sailing around with skyscrapers as a backdrop is a little strange to start with, but it really doesn’t take time to get accustomed and become strangely therapeutic.
At Dockland Sailing and Watersports Centre (DSWC), located in the heart of London’s Docklands there really is something for the whole family, Matt Richard, DSWC’s Chief Instructor explains. “We run open sessions throughout the week (exc Wednesday and Friday), getting people out on the water windsurfing. As a member the equipment is free to borrow and as a non-member there is a minimal fee of £10.
“For newcomers to the sport or those that wish to improve their skills, there are beginners’ courses that run throughout the season and improvers clinics on a Monday evening. For younger people, DSWC runs a five week Watersports programme through the summer.”
Matt is the first to admit ‘We don't recommend that advanced windsurfers look at us as a general place to come windsurf, but the dock does provide the perfect regular place to get on the water, cruise around, refine skills and practice light wind freestyle.
“We are also looking to expand our operation to utilise King George Reservoir.”
Similarly, BTYC Sailsports, 6 miles from the centre of London on the Welsh Harp reservoir, has over 70 members is one of the fastest growing & successful windsurfing clubs in the region. Thursday evenings provide newcomers with the perfect opportunity to have a go for just £10 – bargain!! With après- windsurf ready to welcome you off the water, who could possible refuse giving it a go!
Chief Instructor James Kendall tells us exactly what’s going on: “BTYC provides a mixture of ways for people to get on the water and enjoy windsurfing, from courses for groups or individuals (1:1), hire sessions (Wednesdays/Saturdays and Sundays) and a specific Junior Club (Fridays), assisting everyone with an opportunity to get on the water.”
Both BTYC and DSWC have guest coaches running clinics at the lakes, aimed at improving skills and honing in on those specific techniques, as well as club trips to the coast, providing members with the chance to experience bump and jump, open water conditions.
On a slightly smaller scale, but still offering plenty of opportunity to get the whole family on the water, is Wimbledon Park, a small lake offering beginner windsurfing to both adults and children, through club nights and leisurely mornings, summer programmes for the kids, as well as structured courses.
If you said ‘Manchester City’ to anyone, the reply is most likely to be ‘Football’…….but in the heart of the city is Debdale Outdoor Centre. Operated by Manchester City Council Centre, Debdale provides Manchester and the surrounding districts with a thriving watersports centre with a first class range of activities and leisure opportunities. With Clubs for adults and juniors operated at a low cost and all year round, Debdale is able to get someone as young as seven years old on the water enjoying windsurfing.Club night is a Tuesday evening and Saturday morning at £10 per person, which includes the use of all equipment needed, and a specific club for juniors.In addition to the club activities, the Centre also runs a wide variety of youth courses, during the school summer holidays and half term weeks, pay and play opportunities, demo days for you and your family to have a taste of watersports and plenty of social events including the ‘Gorton Carnival’.
Down the road, based in the heart of the Salford Quays, is Salford Quays Waterports Centre. This may sound like a strange place to go windsurfing, but with staff who are passionate about getting both you and your family on the water, with specific junior windsurfing clubs running regularly it’s a great centre to get an introduction to the sport, while watching the bustle of the Quays pass you by!Salford’s windsurfing courses are run as group sessions and 1:1s, enabling plenty of openings to get you on the water throughout the year, as well as hire sessions and junior clubs providing a regular opportunity to head out.
Crossing the country further, taking us to the world of The Beetles and again a place probably more renowned for its football than its windsurfing , Liverpool Watersports Centre is equipped to cater for a wide range of customers and their abilities, from beginners to improvers.Situated in The Queens Dock, this true inner city centre offers group or 1:1 tuition and fantastic kids programmes operating throughout the summer, as well as a social club for evening windsurfing sessions and equipment hire.
Opportunities for businesses and corporations
Many larger companies encourage their employees with club benefits, encouraging employees to stay fit and healthy. Why not encourage them to include windsurfing as one of these benefits!
Liverpool Watersports, like many of the other clubs and centres featured in this article have great relationships with companies, offering their employees the ability to get out on the water instead of hiding away in a stuffy gym! Why not find out what opportunities are available at a club near you?
Getting the kids involved
Through its clubs and centres the RYA offers many ways for all the family to get out on the water.With a wide variety of courses and clubs out there for you to enjoy there really is no excuse for not giving windsurfing a go, or progressing your skills.
The RYA also works closely with groups such as the Sea Cadets. The Cadets aim is to inspire young people through adventure and challenge, by offering opportunities to get on the water and windsurf all over the country from Royal Victoria Docks in London, up to Liverpool’s Crosby Activity centre, with many more in between!
Providing young people with a regular place to meet and get on the water the Sea Cadets run specific RYA Course Tuition as well as opportunities to race and go on an adventure, with organised trips away!
These are just a few of the centres and clubs operating near you, why not find out where your nearest is, whether close to your office for a relaxing after work sail, or near to home for a weekend family adventure!
Find out more about getting into windsurfing and RYA training courses at www.rya.org.uk or check out www.rya.org.uk/wheresmynearest to find your nearest club or training centre.