North Wales gets OnBoard
The boss of British sailing helped launch a new OnBoard initiative to encourage more youngsters in North Wales to take up sailing.
Rod Carr, the chief executive of the Royal Yachting Association, joined representatives from Welsh sailing and around 30 clubs in the North Wales area at Plas Menai to launch the scheme last night (Monday).
The man responsible for overseeing all sailing from Saturday afternoon recreation through to the Olympics believes North Wales is one of the best areas in the country to take advantage of the OnBoard aims.
The RYA’s OnBoard scheme seeks to make sailing more accessible by linking sailing clubs with schools and youth groups to set up more sailing sessions for kids. Nationally over 132,000 children have gone through the scheme already, with 125 clubs taking part in 24 regions with North Wales becoming the 25th. Cai Roberts is the new OnBoard full time community development officer to push the participation in North Wales.
Rod said at the launch: “Sailing needs children taking up the sport who do not have family already doing it, people from the local community, it is absolutely vital for the future of sailing.
“We are doing very well on the world stage with success in the Olympics and round-the-world races, but for that to be sustainable we have got to capitalise on the success of the likes of Ben Ainslie and Ellen MacArthur.
“However this is not just about Olympics success in the 2020’s, we have a good system to keep that talent going through, but this is about participation at all levels.
“We have had some fantastic success at doing that in some parts of the country and we need to roll that out here. No other area of the country has got the sailing facilities along with somewhere like the Plas Menai centre to help clubs to deliver.”
North Walian Roberts is starting the job of helping clubs to set up the opportunities, while going into schools all round the area to encourage pupils and teachers to take up those opportunities.
“My job is to get out there into the local schools, clubs, youth organisations, whoever would like to get a taste of sailing and get a link with their local club,” said Roberts.
“Then we will be helping clubs overcome the hurdles, for instance if they do not have enough boats. We will find a way to get across the obstructions.
“Ultimately the numbers we can get through this scheme is down the clubs themselves and the capacity they feel they have, but there was a real sense of enthusiasm at the launch.
“The clubs need to be a training centre, but if they are not then we can help push them in that direction so that then they can become an OnBoard centre.”
The development was welcomed by Llandudno sailing club commodore Paul Morton. “We are lucky in that we have just become a training centre so we are ready to go,” he said.
“It was great to have Rod Carr from the RYA coming to Plas Menai, it shows how important this scheme is and put the clubs in the picture about where the RYA want to go.
“It will push quite a few clubs to become recognised training centres, while Cai knows he has to get into the schools. We are already coupled with two schools in Llandudno, but we could do more.”
Welsh Yachting Association North Wales development officer Ruth Iliffe added, “It was great to see such a positive atmosphere at the launch, everyone here is really excited.”