Hi everyone

I cannot believe Push The Boat Out is here! It is fantastic to have 50 clubs and centres across the region taking part and running events this year. 

Last year more than 4,000 people tried sailing and windsurfing over the nine days of PTBO. Can we beat that this year? We can't let the impetus drop in promotion. 

For those of you running events over this weekend you can still try to get yourself on your local radio station on Saturday or Sunday to tell the world your event is on and don't forget your online word of mouth is as powerful as ever. With the forecast looking pretty reasonable across the region for the weekend, take advantage and get all your members who use social media to post something about your event.

We know the proportion of members being introduced to sailing through the traditional route of by a parent or other family member has fallen by about 40% since the '60s, while open/taster day engagement accounts for almost a fifth of newcomers.

So for those of you with another week to go, what could you still be doing to get the numbers up, and to not only get people through your gates but to keep them coming back?

There is some good last minute advice in these previous articles...

Launch of the 2017 Affiliated Club Membership Census 

The results of the annual RYA Affiliated Club Membership Census always makes for fascinating reading in terms of painting a picture of membership trends in the region. 

And, with the 2017 census being launched next month, you can get ahead and take a look at the draft questions and deadline incentives here - 2017 Affiliated Club Membership Census  

Last year's Midlands headline news was that club membership in the region was growing and churn was decreasing, meaning there were just under 20,000 club members in 88 Midlands clubs at an average of 235 per club - that equated to 20% increase from between 2013-2016.

Midlands clubs were operating at around 73% of overall capacity, with an approximate capacity of 6,500 within our 88 clubs. When clubs were asked what activities they thought would produce membership growth, open days/tasters, word of mouth, club boats, less formal ‘offers’ and facility investment were most popular.

However all this came with a word of warning. While the headline figures looked impressive over four years, the growth over three years was much less rapid. 

The RYA Club Membership Census was completed by 91% of Midlands clubs, making the findings extremely reliable and giving us a great reference point from which to be able to support each of our clubs in exactly the way they need.

It will be interesting to see what patterns emerge this year.

Sport England Grant Update

Sport England has recently published its Small Grants guidance and it's great news this is continuing as a way to apply to way to fund additional equipment. The focus is on 14+ year olds so find out exactly what's what and download the new Sport England: Small Grants Guide

The AC is upon us!

When the mainstream media and the general public are talking about sailing you know something exciting is going on. That's exactly how it was for the America's Cup in 2013, and now with the month-long 2017 edition getting underway in Bermuda on 26 May, it would be great to hear that chatter again!

In the Midlands we've got to have a soft spot for Iain Percy's Artemis team, as Grinder Chris Brittle is a Leicestershire lad, who grew up in Rearsby and did his early sailing at Roundhill in Leicester. Chris' achievements once again show that the world's elite really do come from everywhere and, especially for all those who remember Chris from his junior days, it will be incredible to watch him in action.

In case you missed it - introducing Powerability

This is a really interesting new RYA Training programme for Sailability sites but that could also be adopted by clubs and centres prepared to become a Sailability accredited site.

It could just mean getting people who previously haven't been able to or wanted to get involved in some of your club activities out on the water and potentially volunteering too. If greater inclusivity in the sport is one thing we all aspire to Powerability looks a great way to drive that forwards.

Get the full story here - Introducing Powerability - powerboating for all  

Have a great month everyone, make the most of Push The Boat Out and I can't wait to hear how many new people we're going to be supporting on the water in the region this summer!