Ben's Buzz - October 2019


Hi everyone

I want to kick off with a reminder about getting your places booked for the RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference at Landau Forte Amington College, Tamworth on Saturday 16 November. As always places for the event are filling quickly and, with limited capacity, you don't want to miss out on your club being there.

Chris Preston RYA ChairSince booking opened we're delighted to confirm that Chris Preston
(RYA Chair) and Joff McGill (RYA Sailability Manager) will also join us, alongside Alistair Dickson (RYA Director of Sport Development) and Mandy Peters (RYA Legal Manager) plus a host of experts from the region.

As a reminder, this year's conference theme is 'Putting people first'. That means understanding what your members, volunteers and new sailors need, and putting that at the forefront of your decision making.

In addition to the usual regional updates, guest speakers, workshops
and update sessions, there is also plenty of interest for the Midlands' cruising sailors - from our specialist cruising clubs to clubs with
cruising sections - so we develop more interest and opportunities in
big boat sailing across the region too.

Check out the full agenda and book here - RYA Midlands Regional Affiliated Clubs Conference - BOOK NOW

Thanks Chris, welcome Tim, 

Bit of a team update as we have a change of High Performance Manager in the region. From the end of October, Chris Blackburn, who has looked after junior racing development in the Midlands and North for many years, will now focus on the North as well as looking after the national windsurfing pathway. 

So, we welcome Tim Hall as the new Midlands HPM. Many of you will already know Tim from his involvement in the national RYA racing programmes. Hailing from North Wales, Tim was previously Director of Sailing at the Welsh Yachting Association before acting as Event Director for Sail for Gold Regatta before and after the London 2012 Olympics and then taking on the role of RYA Competitions Manager.

Since 2015 he has been the British Youth Sailing Single Handed Pathway Manager. But from 1 November he takes over as Midlands HPM, which he will combine with working with the UK Optimist and UK Laser Class Associations. You will get the chance to meet Tim at the RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference while there will also be a Q&A with him in the next Midlands Bulletin. 

Huge effort for Regional Junior Championships

It was amazing to see 100+ sailors and so many different clubs, families and volunteers out in force at the British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships at Draycote Water on 28-29 September.

It wasn't an easy weekend to run a big event, but it was a good event. The sailors in the Championship racing fleet had to be patient waiting for the wind to die down on Saturday, but the windsurfers and OnBoard Fun fleet had a great time in the breeze.

The biggest cheer of the weekend came when the OnBoarders were RIBed out to boats rigged with Volvo-sponsored big bag sails and towed to the top of the reservoir. Then they set off for the ‘Draycote Downwind Dash’, in front of a packed clubhouse! Even the littlest ones managed to do it in the strong winds. The serious sailors made up for lost time on Sunday.

The full results are here - RYA Regional Junior Championships Midlands

Support to help you develop more instructors 

There have been a couple of useful articles recently I want to flag up again on initiatives to support you in developing more instructors.

If you're an OnBoard club, funding through the RYA and the Andrew Simpson Foundation is available until next July to help you develop instructors. The aim is for OnBoard clubs to put more volunteers through instructor training so more young people can enjoy the benefits of sailing and windsurfing. This article has all the details you need - Don't miss out on OnBoard instructor training funding - it's having an impact - and if you're interested in knowing more email me at

Meanwhile, the Midlands Aspiring Female Instructors programme is capturing the imagination, with a number of women already expressing an interest in getting involved in next year's project after this article was published in our September Midlands Bulletin - How Aspiring Instructors project is inspiring women to teach. If you want to join the 2020 project, or you know someone who might be interested, Tricia Ordsmith would love to hear from you at

Nine Midlands coaches and trainers also recently enjoyed a Foiling CPD 'flight school' at Draycote Water, so keep your eyes open for more opportunities like this.

Inaugural Midlands Youth Series Champion crowned

Congratulations to Bartley SC's Megan Hardiman, who was crowned overall champion at the final of the Midlands Youth Series. The event, which took place at Megan's home club on Sunday 15 September, also saw Bartley pick up the Series team trophy.

Megan secured a race win and two second places from the five races contested on the day to wrap up the Series victory from club mates, Harrison Allen in second and Cecily Webb in third.

Across the six-event Series, 49 sailors took part from 14 different Midlands clubs, with 42% of all participants females. In total 28 of the 30 scheduled Series races were completed.

With the Series also providing training for race officials, five developing Midlands race officials took up the opportunity to gain relevant event experience. One was already an RYA Race Officer looking to apply for the next level, two are now actively applying for RYA Race Official qualifications and another is joining Series organiser, Tom Rusbridge, to gain more experience later this year 

Thanks to Tom, his race officials team and all the volunteers at the host clubs - Ogston, Chase, Notts County, Staunton Harold, Rutland and Bartley - for making the Series work. We will now reflect on its first year and provide an update on any plans for 2020 soon. Download the Series results - page 1 and page 2.

That's all for this month.