Brading Haven Yacht Club, on the Isle of Wight, has reached the national final of the RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Award 2022, supported by Gallagher.
The Award recognises the outstanding achievements of sailing clubs across the UK and promotes the hard work and dedication that goes into running a successful club.
As a RYA South Region Finalist, Brading Haven Yacht Club (BHYA) joins nine other sailing clubs from across the UK - including Lymington Town Sailing Club in the New Forest - in a public vote to decide the winner. Both clubs are hoping club members, local residents and sailors will vote for their club in their bid to become the national RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year.
John Maher, Brading Haven Yacht Club Secretary, said: “Members and staff at the Club are absolutely delighted to be a South Regional finalist and to have gained recognition in the Sustainability category.”
Since Covid-19 restrictions eased, BHYC has seen an incredible increase in membership. Total memberships are now over 1000, including over 100 new families joining this vibrant Club.
The club believes this increase is due to several factors. This includes year-round activity and the popularity of other water activities including kayaking and paddleboards, which has seen an uptake doubling over the past two years.
Family activities of After School Sailing and OnBoard sessions for youngsters have experienced the most growth at the Club. As John explains: “These sessions, attended by up to 22 youngsters a time, have in turn introduced their parents to the Club and all that goes on here. Many have then opted to join and take part in training, coaching and social sailing.”
“These new members are almost exclusively local and are telling us more and more that we are seen as a hub for the community.”
The Club has also seen an increase in its youth activity, with children coming from schools from all over the Island to take part in the Club’s Youth Coaching sessions. A new fleet of Teras, purchased through a grant from the Eric Twiname Trust, is also proving extremely popular with both Cadets and instructors alike.
The Club was also instrumental in the creation of the new IoW Youth and Junior Championship series, which gives local young sailors from across the Island racing opportunities with other clubs and allows them to meet and compete against their peers before potentially venturing out to events on the mainland.
“We are pleased at the success of the IoW Youth and Junior Championships, with great feedback from those attending, both in terms of the on the water activities and the welcome they received at the Club.” John added.
The Club’s volunteers are also an essential part of the fabric of the Club, as John explains: “We have been delighted to see a gradually increasing number of our more recent new members volunteering their time.
“We always aim to make volunteering an enjoyable and rewarding experience and new members see that it is also a great way to get to know others. Whether joining one of our regular volunteer groups who help around the Club, providing racing or social sailing support, or helping to set up and clear down for one of the social events, our volunteers’ contribution is immeasurable.”
BHYC has also joined RYA Sailability, offering sailing for disabled people. Currently ten people have joined the programme, and are now able to enjoy taking to the water and can also complete RYA qualifications including Level 1&2 and PB2 courses.
Special recognition - Sustainability achievements
In addition to reaching the final, the Club has also been recognised in the category of “Sustainability achievements.”
Based in a conservation area of special scientific interest, (SSSI site) BHYC’s Eco Club aims to raise awareness of the environment and an understanding of the impact on surroundings.
A range of activities take place on a regular basis, including monthly beach cleans and survey walks. The survey walks are held at low tide to monitor and record stats, which are then reported to the Hampshire Wildlife Trust. The walks have also resulted in some interesting and less common finds. For example, the discovery of Elysia Chlorotica, which is often referred to as the solar powered sea slug and Long and Broad Clawed Porcelain crabs, which often go unnoticed as they live under rocks. Next season the club hopes to map seagrass beds for ongoing monitoring, whilst members are already being encouraged to drop anchor in such a way as to limit any damage to the seagrass.
The Clubhouse also hosts additional talks. A recent “Secrets of the Solent” talk, held by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust, which was attended by Cadets and their families. The Trust now hope to use the Club for a pilot scheme, prior to rolling it out across other clubs.
A Bird Watching group monitors the local bird populations and their behaviours. John concludes: “The group is helping contribute to the picture we are building of the effects of climate change on our local environment.”
Two RYA South Region clubs nominated
In addition to Brading Haven Yacht Club, Lymington Town Sailing Club has also reached the national final.
Commenting on the award nominations, Susie Moore, RYA South Regional Development Officer, added: “Huge congratulations to Brading Haven Yacht Club and Lymington Town Sailing Club for being shortlisted in the RYA Club of the Year as well as for their individual special recognitions, of which there only four are given out across the UK.”
Rob Clark, RYA Director of Sport Development, added: “We’ve learnt over the years that each club is different, and all have their strengths. It’s great to hear the stories of these clubs and congratulations to each of them for making our final 10. Now it’s up to you to vote for the winner.”
The RYA has also recognised Warsash Sailing Club, as just one of three clubs from around the country, with a Certificate of Commendation for their outstanding work during the last year.
The overall winner will be announced at the RYA Virtual Dinghy Show. To vote visit here. Voting closes on 25th January 2021.