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About OnBoard 

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OnBoard is about more children and young people (aged 8-18) learning to sail and windsurf.  More importantly, it's about keeping them involved in sailing, for life. 

Actively bringing more young people into sailing and windsurfing, OnBoard is providing clubs and centres (that are dinghy or windsurfing RYA Training Centres) the opportunity to adopt a local school or youth organisation.  Clubs and Centres decide who to adopt, when activities run and how they will integrate young people into their organisation.  By taking sailing to young people, clubs and centres are opening up access to the sport and securing the long term future of sailing and windsurfing.

How it all works

All clubs run slightly differently.  What they do depends on the creativity of the instructor but its all about having lots of fun while learning new sailing skills, with a few games thrown in for a bit of extra fun.

Learn to Sail

During OB sessions children might practise skills from any of the 4 stages of the Youth Scheme.  It all depends on how much sailing experience they have, what level of sailor they are and who’s there to teach them,. They will be able to tick off sailing skills within Stages 1 to 4 of the RYA Youth Scheme at OB club sessions.  If they need a logbook, go to the RYA online shop at the top right hand corner of this page and search for RYA Youth Sailing Scheme - Dinghy Sailing (G11) or RYA Youth Windsurfing Scheme Syllabus & Logbook (W1), depending on what they are planning to do.

The things children might want to know....

How often do OnBoard clubs meet?
Most OB clubs meet on a weekly basis.  Those based on the sea may have to meet every other week because of the tide – if the water’s out you probably won’t be able to sail.

What happens the first time I sail?
Normally you’ll sail a small boat by yourself or with a friend, with an instructor nearby.  You get in the boat and they show you what to do.  In a nutshell, they show you the ropes and tell you all you need to know to get going.  They make everything easy to understand and get you ready to have a go.

Can I go out on my own?
As you can imagine, there are all sorts and sizes of boat to sail.  Some that are just for one and others you can sail with your mates.  We always go out as a group – even if you’re in a boat by yourself.

How wet will I get?
If the wind is light or you’re in a more stable steady boat then you’ll only get a few splashes.  However, if it’s windy, you’re on a windsurfer or in a boat that’s closer to the water, you’ll probably get quite wet.  This is when a wetsuit is a good choice – because it helps to keep you warm even when you’re soaking wet.

What to wear on the water
If you’re sailing you’ll need some warm clothes, a pair of old trainers and a waterproof coat, as it’s nearly always coolers on the water than on the shore.  Whenever you’re on or near the water, it’s essential to wear a buoyancy aid.  The sailing club or centre will lend you one of these and a wetsuit as well if you need one.

For learning to windsurf you should wear a summer wetsuit over your swimsuit or shorts, with your buoyancy aid on top.  A full summer suit (long legs) is better than a shortie (short legs) if you are a newcomer, since this will keep you much warmer and protect your knees when climbing onto the board. We would recommend that you also wear wetsuit boots or old trainers to protect your feet in the shallows.

If you are sailing or windsurfing in autumn and beyond, make sure you wear a winter wetsuit and wetsuit boots, along with your buoyancy aid. A hat, spray top and wetsuit gloves are also a good idea to keep you extra warm.

Do I need to be able to swim?    What if I can't swim?
Everyone who goes sailing or windsurfing has to wear a buoyancy aid – even if they’re a cross channel swimmer!  A buoyancy aid makes you float, keeping you safe if you fall in.  Yes, it’s helpful if you can swim, but most importantly you need to be confident about being in the water.

When do OnBoard clubs take place?
Usually they start in April or May and run until the to end of September or October, but check with your local club for details. Winter and early Spring are normally too cold for novice sailors and windsurfers to get on the water.  As you get more experienced you may wish to sail over the Winter and take advantage of the generally stronger winds.
This means OB clubs do different things over the off-season.  They might:
  ·   run on-water club training sessions throughout the year,
  ·   or offer alternative social activities through the winter months
  ·   some close down completely at the end of autumn.

If this is the case, keep in touch and carry on sailing the next year or, if you’ve really got the bug, find another OB club near to where you live.  They’re all welcoming and will want to get you involved!