RDO Blog - December 2021

Catch up with all the latest news for the Midlands with Regional Development Officer Ben Hodgson...

It was fantastic to deliver the RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference on Sunday 28 November and particularly to see people for real rather than via a phone or a screen, providing the first face-to-face conversations at this annual conference for almost two years!

The team really enjoyed meeting everyone and we had a good mix of ‘regulars’ along with people who had come to their first Affiliated Clubs Conference. We had a great team of staff and volunteers from RYA Midlands and HQ and a big thank you to them for sharing their time and knowledge at the event. We’ve had some great feedback so hopefully people enjoyed the conference as much as we did, as well as the venue at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Around half the region’s clubs had delegates at the conference, representing a variety of boating - including motor, dinghy and cruising - and the content was really relevant to all the changes we’ve experienced in the world. It was an ideal opportunity to reflect on where we are now and what the future might hold for your club.

Following on from the conference there will be a number of online Club Development Sessions in January across the key themes of membership, volunteering, developing facilities and governance/legal challenges. Registration for these online sessions is available HERE.  In the New Year we’re also hoping to have some in-person club development forums around the region.

Instructor Training Day

Next on the horizon for centres in the RYA Midlands region is our Instructor Training Day at Rutland Sailing Club on Saturday 12 February. This will be for instructors of all levels as well as qualified race coaches from across the powerboat, sailing, windsurfing and wing surfing schemes.

The programme will have a couple of shorter on-shore topics for instructors to choose from in the morning and then in the afternoon we’ll have a longer session afloat, so it should be a busy but fun day and a great way for instructors to get ahead and ready for the 2022 season.

Bookings are due to open soon, but in the meantime save the date and really importantly, please remember to share the details with all of the instructors at your centre! Find out more about our Instructor Training Day and other ideas for revitalizing your instructor team here.

Regional courses

For RYA Dinghy Instructors looking to move up to the next level, bookings are now open for a four-day Senior Instructor course at Nottingham SC and Notts County SC over the weekends of 5-6 March and 19-20 March 2022, perfect timing ahead of the new season.

Also now bookable are a Keelboat Instructor Endorsement weekend at Rutland SC, 5-6 March 2022, and a Dinghy Instructor Revalidation Day at Northampton SC, 5 March 2022.

Details and booking for all upcoming courses can be found at RYA Midlands Instructor Courses and remember we also have our RYA Midlands Instructors group on Facebook which is a good place to keep up to date with all the latest courses and opportunities.

Planning for renewals

As we draw to the close of one year and look to the next, lots of clubs have their membership renewals coming up so it’s the time to start thinking about having positive messaging around this annual process of inviting your members to rejoin for another 12 months.

Around 90 per cent of clubs have their renewals in January, February and March, and it’s an opportunity to sell what your club offers and its programme for the coming year. You may also want to add a box with a question asking your members what they would like to see at your club – or to gather additional information such as about gender or diversity to support club planning and grant applications.

My advice is to use the renewals process to not only ask your members to hand over their money to re-join but to promote your club to its members and get to know them better. Check out our top tips for positive communications around renewals time here.

COVID Guidance

As the Government is starting to reintroduce both Covid related guidance and regulations, the team at the RYA are working hard to keep our information for you on this topic up to date. We know that at times there is a delay between the Prime Minister’s announcements and us being able to update our guidance; this is normally a result of us waiting for the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to update their guidance or at times for us to have sight of the wording of the legislation which can make a significant difference between what is and is not permitted.  We will continue to apply pressure to these bodies as we know how important it is for you to know what is permissible or advisable as quickly as possible.  Our guidance is available here, scroll down the page to find our “FAQs on COVID-19 Guidance.”


I know that more and more clubs are trying to be more inclusive so that they can attract more members. So to assist you with this we have created an inclusivity toolkit which is designed to help clubs and centres to establish where on that journey they currently are and offer guidance on how to move forward from there. The tool itself comes with loads of templates and additional resources to help clubs and centres to navigate their way through the tool.  The toolkit is now ready to be tested by a small number of clubs and we are looking for some volunteers to take part in the “Phase 2 Pilot”. This will involve a select number of clubs trailing the tool within their clubs through the winter and then providing feedback to us on how they found the tool and provide us with a case study. If you would be interested in joining the phase two pilot and helping us to create an incredible resource, please talk to me or contact the equality team on equality@rya.org.uk.

RYA Volunteer Awards

Congratulations to the dedicated club members who were among those honoured in the 2021 RYA Volunteer Awards: Nigel Austin of Cransley SC, Richard Bower of Olton Mere SC, Charlotte Davies and Martin Warburton of South Staffordshire SC, Harry Sayers of Draycote Water SC and Tony Sutton of Himley Hall SC. All of our recipients have made an incredible contribution to the sport and you can find out more about their volunteering and the awards in our Midlands round-up.

Vote for our Club of the Year finalist

There’s still time to vote for our RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year finalist Chelmarsh SC to help us bring the trophy home to the Midlands! This self-confessed minnow of a club is booming thanks to diversifying with not only paddleboarding but also open water swimming, enabling it to grow its membership and reinvest in equipment and training. Find out more about what makes this club special here and remember to cast your vote!

And finally…

Stay up to date with all the latest news by following @RYAMidlands on Facebook and/or Twitter and add our ‘save the dates’ for clubs to your new diary for 2022!

  • Saturday 5 February: Raymarine Training Conference supported by Gallagher, online
  • Saturday 12 February: RYA Midlands Instructor Training Day, Rutland Sailing Club
  • Saturday & Sunday 26-27 February: RYA Dinghy Show, Farnborough International

Wishing you all a happy and safe festive season,