Discover the keys to the blue realm at The Big Weekend

Join us at Plas Menai for exciting new ideas to boost your career, club or centre
22 Sep 23

Adventurer and guiding expert Myles Farnbank in a selfie picture on the water in a ravine with two kayakers in the background.

Instructors, clubs and centres are invited to experiment with new ideas for navigating the future at The Big Weeekend – including re-imagining racing and adventure guiding.

The Big Weekend’s innovative programme of indoor and outdoor sessions will encourage delegates to explore the future of our sport/s, experiment with new ideas, and equip themselves going forward with new knowledge and qualifications.

Outdoor sessions will include a takeover of club racing at Port Dinorwic SC; creating an every-weather club/centre with a round robin intro to winging, SUPs and Swimsafe; and a chance to have a go at asymmetric sailing or keelboat team/match racing.

Adventure guiding

Both days at Plas Menai - Saturday and Sunday 13-14 October 2023 - will include the chance to enjoy a three-hour session with adventurer Myles Farnbank titled Keys to the Blue Realm, exploring the benefits of adding guiding to your skill set and to the offer at your club or centre.

As RYA Cymru Wales chief executive James Stuart explains: “Our sports give people access to the water and more than 60% of the world that others can’t reach. It is an amazing playground but also full of wonder. Knowing how to share and interpret this with your friends, your customers and members can open up a whole new raft of new opportunities.

“We’ve brought in Myles Farnbank for The Big Weekend, who is one of the top guides in Europe and a global pioneer of the adventure travel industry, to give you an insight into guiding and how it can add value to your career, enhance the experience of those who use your club or centre, and unlock the potential to drive new interest in your venue.”

Adventurer and guiding expert Myles Farnbank on the water paddling a canoe with mountains in the background.

Connecting people and place

With experience of sea kayaking, canoeing, sailing and mountaineering in some of the world’s wildest places, Myles will be sharing his passion for connecting people with nature and the outdoors.

He has over 30 years experience of working in the outdoor sector, including 15 years as Head of Guides & Training for leading UK adventure travel company Wilderness Scotland. As a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Tourism Society, Myles is also committed to sustainable tourism contributing positively to communities and wildlife.

Now working as a consultant, his work has included creating the UK’s first Adventure Guide training programme; he is a Lecturer in Outdoor Learning at The University of Cumbria in Ambleside and Vice Chair for the Scottish Adventure Activities Forum.

Adding to the toolkit

Myles said: “While you’re out sailing that’s in an incredible environment more often than not, and that offers a huge range of other things that can be dropped in to broaden the experience and add value - such as insights into coastal history, folklore or wild edibles.

"It’s an opportunity to informally provide this extra content and would be something in the toolkit, so if an opportunity popped up like a sea eagle flying overhead or a dolphin appears, the person running the training or sailing would be able to briefly stop and share some knowledge or a story about these amazing things.

“If you ignore the place in which you’re operating you’re missing an opportunity, so it’s about enhancing your offer and being place-responsive.”

Myles will be running his hands-on workshops on the shoreline with content including coastal folklore and history along with ecology, bushcraft and wild food.

“Hopefully people will go away with a broader insight into the marine environment and what they might offer by way of adding value to the sailing experiences they’re involved with running, whether that's in a club setting or at a training centre.”

Choose your sessions

The Big Weekend is open to all instructors from across the RYA training schemes along with anyone involved in running their club or centre as a volunteer or member of staff.

Both days will blend plenary sessions with RYA updates for all alongside the chance for you to create your own timetable with a choice of practical sessions to suit your interests.

These also include on-water sessions for aspiring windsurfing, dinghy and powerboat trainers; safety boat skills in coastal waters; and experimenting with ways to make activities accessible for all.

Find out more and select your sessions at The Big Weekend booking hub.

Drone view over Plas Menai National Outdoor Centre for Wales with five dinghies sailing in the foreground.