OnBoard sailors push the boat out at Bewl Valley
Twenty children from four schools near Bewl Valley Sailing Club took part in the very first OnBoard Inter-school Festival on 21st July.
The date was planned to coincide with the RYA’s national Push the Boat Out Day, celebrating the British Sailing Team who are just days away from the Olympic Sailing Event taking place in Weymouth.
Presented with a great opportunity to get out on the water in two Olympic sports, and in the first blazing sunshine in months, the youngsters enjoyed a morning of activity on the water.
Representing Wadhurst Primary, Horsemonden, New Beacon and Stonegate schools, all of the children had learnt to sail with the RYA’s OnBoard scheme at Bewl Valley SC just this year.
The format was split into two, with each child representing their school in a race around a simple course, and then moving on to get a taster session in windsurfing.
Flukey wind changes made the racing tricky, but all of the competitors, who have gained their RYA Stage 1 certificate just this year, managed to successfully sail the triangular course in Topper dinghies. While Horsemonden School fielded the largest team of nine children, the overall winners were Wadhurst Primary School all of whose sailors put in a superb performance.
Every child, who was aged between 8 and 14, was presented with an OnBoard certificate and a Harken goody bag for taking part, and Wadhurst were presented with the Bewl Valley SC Inter- School OnBoard Festival Trophy.
The event ran in conjunction with the Sailing Club’s general open day, which gave all the OnBoard parents an opportunity to get out on the water as well. They sailed in the larger Wayfarer dinghies and the club’s brand new RS Venture dinghy, which was funded by a successful Sport England Small Grants bid. There was also a raffle, massive discounts from a local chandlery and a steel band which provided a great day out for the whole family.
The RYA’s OnBoard Development Office for Kent & Sussex, Sam Rowe summed up the event: “It was fantastic to see twenty keen young sailors come along today and enjoy themselves out on the water.
“Bewl Valley Sailing Club have put a lot of hard work into the OnBoard scheme this year, handing out over 150 free junior memberships to young people who have completed an RYA Stage 1 course with them through local schools. Many of these young people are returning on a regular basis already.”
He added “Today was great fun and it was brilliant that the kids could have a go at windsurfing as well, putting their basic sailing knowledge to use in another sport. Our thanks go to Dave and Jon at the club for making it happen, and all the parents for their enthusiasm and support!”
Push the Boat Out has been one of the big events on the RYA’s Sail for Gold programme calendar providing the perfect opportunity to showcase sailing to the nation and show support for our Olympic and Paralympic sailors prior to the London 2012 Games.
Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.
Over a ten year period OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants. So far it’s nicely on track.
For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit the RYA’s website www.rya.org.uk or the OnBoard website www.ruob.co.uk