Young Midlands sailors – yep sailors not powerboat racers – have won three RIBS and engines for their clubs in the past three years through the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship. Yet, despite these youngsters being exactly like the junior sailors we find in every club in the Midlands, there is still a fear factor about getting youngsters involved.

This year’s Midlands Honda RYA Youth RIB Area Final is at Staunton Harold on Saturday 1 July, and it would be great to see record numbers on the water. But to achieve this we need more of you running club heats, and even if a club is interested in sailors taking part, this can often find itself in the ‘too hard’ pile.

Will Baldock, Midlands Honda RYA Youth RIB Coordinator, gives us his top 10 tips on getting Honda RYA Youth RIB lift off at your club…

A sailor can never have driven a RIB before

No experience is needed. In fact it's common for sailors who haven't taken part previously to do so well they reach the National Final. The programme covers youngsters from the age eight to 16, and being sailors they will already have a confidence of being on the water. The competent adult/instructor in the boat explains the controls and ensures it’s undertaken in a safe environment. For the sailors it’s fun, they get to do something out of the ordinary and enjoy being trusted.

Where you stand on insurance

We hear it so much, clubs saying their insurance won't let them 'race' powerboats so they can't do Honda Youth RIB. However because it is not powerboat racing, it is a programmme designed to develop and test the RIB driving skills and control of our young coxswains, it is considered a controlled training activity. As long as the RYA’s Honda Youth RIB and powerboat training guidelines are followed you’re covered. If you have any concerns or questions on this at all, check with me and I can advise.

Selling it to the sailors…

Imagine telling a 10-year-old they can drive a RIB; something that is powerful, done by grown-ups, and that few, if any, of their schoolmates will ever have done? That’s a pretty big hook to a kid! Plus there’s the chance they could achieve something really impressive at regional and national level and see themselves in the news!

…and to your members

Think about the impact on your club if you have both adults and other youngsters seeing their young clubmates driving RIBs skillfully and responsibly. It sets a safety precedent and is also huge in terms of your club building up a stock of good young drivers, keeping youngsters involved at your club for longer and marketing your club’s wider reputation as a safe, responsible training venue.

So what does a club heat look like?

You can organise your heats however works best for you. One way could be to copy the area/national finals format, so having boat familiarisation/practice with a competent adult/instructor, including a course mock-up, before going through timed runs through a replica course. Meanwhile, some clubs choose a more structured training approach, following the RYA Level 1 Scheme. As the training progresses they choose their representative(s) and start further training on how to approach the course. 

How many pairs of hands are needed?

How many volunteers you need, which can be parents of those taking part, depends on how your club decides to run your event. A heat similar to the area/national finals will need someone to coordinate, a timekeeper or two and a competent adult / instructor in each competing boat (Minimum RYA Powerboat Level 2 but a Powerboat Instructor is preferred). For a training-based approach, you need qualified RYA Powerboat Instructors are required, within teaching ratios.

Help is at hand!

The Midlands region has a replica area/national final course that clubs can borrow for their local events. There are also volunteers who are happy to help with advice and support for clubs planning to run a local event, from correspondence to attending your event. I can help you with all the information you need on this.

Clubbing together

Running a club heat for the first time can be a bit of a daunting step into the unknown, for organisers and volunteers, so why not team up with another local club(s) and work together to run a heat? This reduces the number of resources / volunteers needed, and you can rotate the events around this cluster? If your club representatives/instructors want to see how other clubs run events give me a shout.

Building a powerboat foundation

If you look to integrate powerboat training for youngsters into your standard club activities, Honda RYA Youth RIB can become just something else they do each year. Youth training sessions can help build skills from a young age with the ultimate aim of them becoming your next safety boat crews. When running RYA Level 1 and 2 powerboating courses, open them up to the younger members too. Remember candidates as young as eight can do the Level 1 Start Powerboating course with the Level 2 from 12 (all candidates under 16 being issued with an endorsed certificate).

The final call

The Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is designed to develop powerboating skill and control. Many participants go on to perform key roles in clubs to support training and racing as safety boat crews as well as becoming instructors themselves. The youngsters benefit in different ways too, from building confidence and broadening boating skills to potentially opening up career opportunities. Then there is the small matter of your club also having the chance to win a new RIB and engine…

Got questions?

Will is your man! Find Will's contact details here - 2017 Area Finals Schedule

If you want to find out how a Midlands club that has won twice goes about things, we've written this previous article...The truth about the Honda Youth RIB Championship