But before we know it, we're heading towards the autumn and it's time to be thinking ahead to your club winter programme. Here are our top tips to keep your members active, engaged and keen to renew their membership.
What you need to know before you get started.
Planning is key
Set up a small sub-group or committee to coordinate your winter programme.
Ask your members
Invite feedback about activities members would like via a quick online survey, poster or social media.
Encourage volunteering for specific mini-projects, tasks or working parties.
Organise a second-hand kit sale
Not everyone has the right apparel for winter but lots of people have pre-loved items they would like to offload. It’s a win-win!
We have many resources to help you help your members.
Winter provides time and opportunity for a variety of RYA shorebased courses ranging from navigation and seamanship to first aid, radio, survival techniques and more.
Run by members, for members! For example, a ‘pimp my boat’ discussion in the boatpark; rope and splicing workshops; boat/board/SUP fleet specific sessions; member talks on topics such as foiling or cruising.
Rules & racing updates
Things you could do to get your members out on the water in the chilly weather.
Organise winter racing events
Many clubs run a special ‘frostbite’ series or similar, or offer a different format such as fast turnaround shorter races to prevent freezing fingers and toes.
Incentivise your members
For example, ‘winter warmer’ special offers in the galley, or on-the-day prize-givings for added fun and to inspire less experienced or younger members: reward results and recognise endeavour or improvement, or the best woolly hat or capsize!
Support informal racing
Encourage groups who may want to meet up midweek, using racing apps or gate starts, or set up challenges such as a ‘Stig lap’.
If it is too cold to get out on the water, there is still lots for your members to do on land.
Why not open the clubhouse for non-boating activities so members can meet up and be sociable, such as for walks, talks, bird watching or cycle rides?
A great way for club members to stay connected. Could your club invest in a monthly eSailing pass? Find out more about Virtual Regatta.
Whatever you have planned for this winter, remember to let your members know about it and at the same time remind them about all the great activities happening at their club! Use our guide to Improving Communication with Members in Club Zone.
With less gap between starts to help keep out the cold and the club’s midweek Wednesday afternoon races, Bartley Sailing Club is popular with retirees and self-employed members and children in the school holidays.
Other ideas supporting winter involvement at the club include regular social media posts highlighting sailors having fun, class training activities with short sprint racing, a December social/quiz, a Santa SUP on Birmingham’s canals, and a Boxing Day race with mince pies.
New for 2021 - 22 was the Bartley Beast, a series of four open handicap events to attract visitors whilst encouraging more club sailors to race over winter with the promise of a large turnout and some prizes. These events also provided a social occasion for members who came along to spectate.
“As a racing club we know that most of our regulars will sail all year around. Adding a few ‘special’ events or activities increases the numbers. For example, a day of class training or sprint racing goes down well. Whilst this winter programme takes some planning it is not over-burdensome on the Sailing Committee and a few different events to freshen things up does a lot for engagement.”
- Simon Hardiman, Commodore of Bartley Sailing Club.