Conference inspires SUP success for Midlands club

Cransley Sailing Club in Northamptonshire has lots of new paddleboard / SUP members after taking inspiration from an RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference
21 Oct 20

Cransley Sailing Club introduced Stand Up Paddleboarding after attending an RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference and hearing Glossop SC’s talk about SUP'ing.

Diversifying activities to include paddleboarding at Glossop had provided a huge boost in engaging professional women - plus the parents of junior members and partners of existing sailors  - with many of this new group of water-users also then learning to sail.

Encouraged by Glossop’s success story and mindful of the fact that Cransley SC’s membership numbers had plateaued, Commodore Nigel Austin took the idea of paddleboarding from the conference to committee members and the club decided to give it a go.

As luck would have it, there was a local group of paddleboarders looking for somewhere to call home and by the end of April 2019 the club in Northamptonshire had 10 new members.  It was just the start of what would prove to be an incredibly rewarding season.

The club agreed a set of water-use rules for paddleboarders, who were invited to become full members alongside the sailors, and the two watersports proved complementary, making it a win-win for the club. When it’s not windy enough to sail, the sailors go paddleboarding, and when it’s too windy to SUP, the paddleboarders see how much fun the sailors are having!

Nigel says paddleboarders and their children have ended up learning to sail, while sailing members have discovered paddleboarding is an opportunity to stay and enjoy the club on no wind days when they might otherwise have gone home: “We’ve even had couple of paddleboard versus sailing races on the days when there’s just a little bit of breeze and they’ve been brilliant. We also like the fact that we’re getting an age group with the paddleboarders which is  25 to 40-year-olds with young families.”

The club had 180 sailing members and ended up with an extra 42 members through paddleboarding. Since lockdown the club's membership has grown further and it now has 190 sailing members and 77 paddleboarders, the latter number now capped at the suggestion of the paddleboarders themselves to retain the balance with the sailing.

Although the club has not had any visitors since Covid-19, its members have visited more than 2,300 times, a new record for the club, which now has more active members than it has ever had. Nigel adds: “We ran a small RYA Level 2 course for the children of paddleboarders and the crossover is certainly happening, with at least five adults also now wishing to learn to sail! We have a waiting list for new members and we have a vibrancy and enthusiasm for sailing and paddleboarding that is evident from the chatter on the club’s WhatsApp to the socially distanced conversations in the open air car park changing rooms all the way along the foreshore. Our biggest dilemma is how to accommodate those on the waiting list in 2021!”

The club has attracted £6,000 in grants and bought six paddleboards for members to use plus one 21-footer for up to five adults, which as Nigel explains is “great for team bonding and having a good laugh”. Some of the funding will go on courses giving people in the community low-cost sessions to encourage them on board: “We think once lockdown finishes people will appreciate being outside and the opportunities provided by sailing and paddleboarding.”

For the future, Cransley believes paddleboarding could provide endless possibilities for engagement: two rugby clubs have held their training sessions using paddleboards and there are plans to use them for yoga sessions, collecting SIM cards from wildlife cameras around the lake, and pond dipping with school children. When Cransley SC attends this year's RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference, it will have lots of ideas to share.

Nigel says: “I think a lot of people go to the conferences to do exactly what I did, which is to glean the best bits and then think ‘what will work best for us’. It’s useful to hear what other clubs are doing.”

Book your FREE ticket for the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference!

Sailing clubs across the country are booking to make the most of this year’s online RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference as they look to the future following the challenges of 2020.

The annual conference usually takes place at multiple regional venues but due to Coronavirus restrictions it will this year be held as a virtual, national event, on Saturday 21 November.

An easy-to-use online platform will make the 2020 RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference more accessible than ever before, with a world-class line up of speakers headlined by Sir Ben Ainslie on the day itself.

Throughout the weekend there will also be an online expo area where interactive ‘stands’ will offer access to RYA legal, racing and training teams, with bookable 1-1 appointments, live text Q&As, club case studies, regional and Home Country updates, downloadable resources and on-demand video.

There will then be a whole series of webinar ‘workshops’ commencing Monday 23rd November, giving clubs a chance to find out more about topics including recruiting and managing volunteers, environmental sustainability, reducing membership churn, engaging local communities, delivering a great experience to a wider audience, and promoting clubs to potential new members.

Tickets for this year’s conference are free and club officers, committee members and volunteers are invited to book now, even if they are not yet sure about their availability, because the live content will also be recorded and available to delegates afterwards.

For all the details about this year’s RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference and to secure your FREE ticket visit: