The support of the Membership base enables the RYA to lobby and campaign on critical issues, including safety, access and freedom to go afloat; to support sport and club development at 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes and 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres worldwide; and to help the country’s most talented young racers fulfill their potential.
When you look at it like this, RYA members make a staggering contribution to promoting and protecting safe, successful and rewarding British boating, and this year a key focus is helping clubs get more from their members being RYA members.
As Conor Lee-Swift, RYA Membership Development Manager, explains: “It’s a common misconception that members of affiliated clubs and classes are automatically RYA members, but both are very different.
“By having a focus on club engagement this year, we want more clubs to see how they can benefit from having more RYA members in their ranks, while helping club members see the benefits they get, and the vital role they play in maintaining the vibrancy of the activity they love, by also being RYA members.
“RYA members help to give all boaters the peace of mind to enjoy safe, successful and rewarding experiences on the water. Without them none of it happens.”
Out and about
Yacht cruising remains the most popular activity among RYA members, yet more recently, membership amongst dinghy sailors has been the faster growing discipline.
More and more people are connecting windsurfing in Wales, dinghy sailing in the Midlands, PWC in the North West, cruising in Scotland - whatever and wherever it might be - with being part of a wider community where they can make a positive difference to the sport they love.
Clubs are at the heart of this - with 350,000 club members in UK and the top five biggest clubs in each region contributing nearly 100,000 of these. That’s why throughout 2019, Conor and his team will be hitting the road and heading out to meet clubs on a new Commodores’ Roadshow, starting in Northern Ireland in April.
He continues: “We always have RYA membership present at the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conferences, but one or two people from committees are tasked with going along with a list of workshops to attend and information to go back to the club with.
“People tell me they would like to have come to the RYA Membership stand but it’s down the list of priorities. So instead we need to be proactive and go to them and tell them what the RYA does for them and where the money goes.”
'What does the RYA do for me?'
It’s the question Conor is asked more than any other.
When it comes to clubs, the answer is ‘quite a lot’. As well as the separate benefits of being RYA affiliated, clubs can also earn money by becoming an RYA Joining Point and promoting RYA membership.
For each club member that joins the RYA either through the Joining Point or by becoming an Associate member (see box), the RYA pays quarterly commission to the club, ranging from £10 for each new Family membership to £2.50 for an Under 18.
To make it easier for clubs to tell their members about why they should join the RYA, a new web-to-print service is being launched for clubs to access RYA-branded posters they can personalise and download or have sent to them at no cost.
A new App is also being unveiled at the RYA Dinghy Show in March, which will enable clubs to sign up RYA members on the spot. The App even works offline, so can be used in the remotest areas, with all inputted information encrypted and automatically syncing once the device is back online.
In addition to the free boating related specialist legal, regulatory and technical advice and support from RYA experts, members can exclusively access over 70 reward partners and RYA benefits and these and new initiatives are continually reviewed. Targeted joining incentives for club members are also currently being worked on, which example may include a 20ltr OverBoard waterproof bag.
While the Commodores’ Roadshow and Joining Point developments are major new initiatives for 2019, work continues in the background to ensure every RYA member, club member or not - gets the most relevant benefits for them; whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever type of boating you do.
Conor concludes: “We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. But to maintain the health of boating, and to continue to protect the interests of all boaters, RYA membership has to remain buoyant. We’re looking forward to more club members joining our community to make a positive difference this year.”
What type of member am I?
Of course you don’t have to be a club member to get all the benefits of being an RYA member, so which of these membership categories suits you?
Pathway – people who have just discovered boating and want to build their experience, skills and knowledge.
Personal – recreational boaters who value their time on the water and want to help the RYA protect recreational boating from unnecessary regulation.
Associate - members of RYA affiliated clubs or class associations
Accredited - RYA instructors, appointed RYA race officials and Race Coach Level 2 and 3, commercial endorsement holders and RYA performance pathway sailors.
*within each category there are membership types for Under 18, Under 25, Adult and Family.
**everyone who holds is a member for 10 consecutive years is upgraded to Gold membership automatically.
Life Membership - provides the reassurance that all the benefits of RYA membership are available to you year-after-year by simply paying a one-off payment based on an age-related calculation.
Fast facts - why should I join?