From Pirates to World Champ – Parents are key

Getting parents involved in sailing was the starting point for a journey which started as club recreation and ended with a world champion.
10 Oct 19

RYA Cymru Wales is supporting the NSPCC Parents in Sport Week by celebrating and showcasing the work that parents do in the boating community.

Jac Bailey, aged 11, went from junior club events known as ‘Pirates’ at Port Dinorwic Sailing Club in Gwynedd, to lifting the RS Tera Sport World Challenge Trophy in Sweden this year.

For Mum Jo Powell, who set up the Pirates and also saw daughter Ffion claim 11th spot in the Pro Fleet, the key was getting parents involved in the sport before their children started sailing – an important message in Parents in Sport Week.

The plan paid off with seven North Wales sailors competing in Sweden. 

“Besides Jac’s determination to sail fast, I think it takes a club to raise a champion,” said Powell, a watersports instructor at The Conway Centre.

“That success comes back to a decision made 10 years ago to change the emphasis to put the parents at the centre of a new junior set-up called the Pirates.”

Parents providing a safe environment has certainly been central at Port Dinorwic. “We had a challenge at the club retaining children over the age of 11 so we thought about how to teach sailing in a different way,” said Powell.

“We saw that sailors who had parents who could sail were at a massive advantage when it came to being brought to the club and anything to do with racing.

“We started getting parents to learn when their children were two or three years old so they would be experienced by the time the child was ready to learn, and the club would be somewhere they were used to being at.”

It was a process that led to six members of Port Dinorwic competing in Sweden, seven from North Wales, making the Welsh contingent one of the largest at the event.

While there were plenty of strong performances in the RS Tera class of boat, Jac coming through to win the title in the younger Sport Fleet was certainly the one to catch the eye.

“Jac went into the last day in second place. That helped because he just thought of ways of how he could win. He ended up sailing his main rival down the field in the last race, he had worked out what he needed to do to take first place.

“Now we are crowdfunding for him to go to the Worlds in South Africa to defend his title next April. There are three from Port Dinorwic going, including Ffion, and there could be one from Pembrokeshire – so four from Wales.”

The NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) has launched the Sports Parents Promise as part of its annual awareness raising campaign, Parents in Sport Week, 7-13 October 2019.

The Promise outlines all the ways in which parents can be the best sports parents they can be, by ensuring their child has safe and enjoyable experiences of sport.

Parents can make the Promise online and, in return, they'll be directed to vital information about how to keep their child safe in sport at

Show your child you support them taking part in sport by making the Promise at and spread the word using the hashtag #SportsParents.