From June, OnBoard is going to look a bit different.

Yes it will still help you do all the awesome things that get youngsters sailing regularly at your OB sessions. But now there is an even bigger focus on helping you to keep these kids sailing for longer by really inspiring their families and teachers as to the life skills benefits that sailing bring.

"We know the life skills and positive attributes sailing can bring a child or young person,” explains Alistair Dickson, RYA Director of Sport Development. 

"The new OB is about really harnessing and communicating these to help families and schools see beyond sailing as a sport but rather as an activity that embeds traits that can shape a child’s life. We believe this new focus will help us achieve better retention, while OB clubs and centres can feel they are having an even more positive impact on a child’s future."


What this means for you

Over the next few months clubs and centres will receive a host of new resources to support you in achieving the programme’s refreshed aims.

Central to this is the introduction of innovative instructor sessions cards, developed by renowned RYA junior sailing coach, Alan Williams, in association with Professor Bill Lucas, Director at the Centre for Real-World Learning, The University of Winchester. 

Bill has looked closely at the positive attributes sailing can foster and worked with Alan and RYA Participation Manager, Victoria Lenz, to ensure each session achieves the maximum possible outcome in relation to specific life skills.  

Sailing skill development through the session cards is in line with the RYA Youth Sailing Scheme. There will be 30 session cards and guidance on how to use the session cards will also be provided.


The session cards are not intended to be prescriptive but are about sharing good practice with specific consideration given to the life skills outcomes. 

Alistair continues: "We'd love to get to the point clubs see the cards and think it would actually be silly not to use them as there's so much insightful content included that can really support and inform the conversations you're having with teachers and parents about why their children should sail.

"If a teacher or parent knows what benefits sailing can bring, and then sees positive changes in their children, they can attribute it directly to sailing increasing the chance of that child carrying on.”

Other resources will include rash vests, prizes, guidance booklets OnBoard tailored for clubs and commercial centres on how to best utilise and case studies on how OnBoard can open up huge opportunities and aspirations within the marine industry.

So why now?

The government’s ‘Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation’ strategy launched in 2015 looked at activity not just in terms of physical fitness but, amongst other factors, mental wellbeing and social and community development too. 

With mental health and wellbeing high on the national education agenda, and our own OnBoard Survey showing a significant number of clubs run OB because of its positive impact in the local community, OB had to reflect what people now want from a sport and be repositioned as able to achieve all these outcomes.

In January's In Your Element we saw the significant impact sailing is having as part of the PE curriculum at Grasmere Primary School in the Lake District. In case you missed that article you can read it here - Gaining confidence to learn through sailing

Fostering retention requires a really positive experience in the early stages. If that positive experience can be on the water for children, and in engagement with teachers and parents off it, then you can start encouraging families to get involved in club activities. 

Once whole families are hooked on the sport’s benefits, the OnBoarders will stay sailing too.

Alistair concludes: “OnBoard is crucial in providing the foundation for the future of our sport. This new approach enables us to share the real value of sailing beyond the stereotypes. 

"It is a change in mindset, but it is an exciting opportunity for people to see sailing for the sport we know it to be and for clubs and centres to benefit too.”