Push The Boat Out is always an awesome way to kick off the summer, to fill your early season courses and give new membership an injection. But when the sun’s out and the days are long and warm, there is no better time to showcase our sport.

That’s why RYA Try Sailing days are back for 2017, and we are inviting clubs to apply to host an event between June and September.

RYA Try Sailing days are slightly different to Push The Boat Out events in that we encourage the host club to target a specific group(s) it wants to work with, or activity/activities it wants to promote (sailing, windsurfing or keelboats). The days are run and delivered by the clubs, supported by the RYA with promotional resources, and the event must plan to attract at least 50 people. 

The America’s Cup, which takes place in Bermuda from 26 May to 27 June, is the perfect chance to take advantage of what is guaranteed to see heightened media interest in sailing as Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR bid to bring the cup home.

Then we’ve still got the whole of July, August and September to keep getting people on the water!

Track record

Last year six Midlands clubs hosted supported Try Sailing days, with two of these at Trimpley and Rutland part of the RYA’s Olympic and Paralympic Sail for Gold ‘have-a-go’ roadshow. The other four were Draycote, Sutton, Manor Park and Notts County.

Gareth Brookes, RYA Regional Development Officer, said the success of these has led to Try Sailing returning this summer.

“All of last year’s events met or far exceeded their estimated visitor numbers, and although the retention from these days was 11%, which is good, it was probably even higher in reality as not everyone booked a course or joined a club on the day.

“Try Sailing provides another great opportunity to raise awareness of your club and our sport. We’re looking for events across the region, spread across the whole time period and covering all groups of people and activities. Half or full day and evening options are all ok, depending on your objectives.”

This is what Try Sailing can achieve. In 2016 (across the six clubs)…

  • Over 28% more people attended Try Sailing days than expected
  • 21 individual or family memberships were sold on the day
  • 54 people on the day booked on to follow on activity 

The value of a targeted approach

The temptation with ‘have-a-go’ days is to make them open to all, as there can be the fear you might ‘miss’ someone or that if you limit it you may have no one there.

But without excluding anyone, it’s still possible to target tasters at a specific group(s) you want to promote particular activities and opportunities too, which actually often leads to higher retention.

At the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March, Tees and Hartlepool YC were named the winners of the RYA Club Inclusivity Award as an overall RYA Club of the Year finalist. Over the past two years THYC have introduced a new adult training session, seen notable growth in female and junior participation and increases in both club racing activity and disabled sailing opportunities.

Underpinning all this has been their approach to running at least three free open days each year, some tailored and targeted at specific under-represented groups - women, people with disabilities and young people. With cohesive promotional plans for each target group, and understanding how to best reach the different audiences using their favoured methods of communication, the impact has been significant.

Gareth concludes: “By targeting certain groups, by default you bring others into the club, because if you ‘sell’ sailing to an individual we know very often their family and friends end up coming along, and getting involved too. Every person converted to the sport brings a network of potential new sailors so can be effective.”

What to do next

If you think you might like to host an RYA Try Sailing day this summer, let us know! We need an idea of what dates you are looking at and who you want to target and/or activities you want to promote so email Gareth at gareth.brookes@rya.org.uk