Get an OnBoard Development Day at your club - why it's worth it

13 Nov 19

Let’s be honest for a moment. How many of you OnBoard clubs received your new resources and session cards over the past year, immediately filed them on a shelf and have never looked at them again?

Don’t worry you’re not the only ones. Perhaps they were filed with the best intention of giving it all a read when you were less busy? Or maybe you’ve been running OnBoard successfully for a long time and just didn’t feel you needed it?

Either way, there was a difference between what we hoped was happening and what was actually happening in terms of how clubs were using the new resources. In reality, they have been getting minimal use at best.

That’s why – as part of a wider national programme of OnBoard Development Days – RYA Midlands Sailing Development Officer, Tricia Ordsmith, and a crack team of Coach/Assessors, have been getting round the region running development days for instructors/coaches in OnBoard clubs to help get the most out of the resources. And you can get an OnBoard Development Day organised at your club.

“The days are tailored for whatever the host club(s) wants to bring out of it,” Tricia says. “Fundamentally it’s about understanding what’s in the session cards and how to use them to run sessions slightly differently.”

Let’s go back to the start

OnBoard was relaunched in 2017 with a focus on six broader learning benefits of sailing and windsurfing - creativity, teamwork,
determination, communication, independence and confidence. To support this, a set of OnBoard resources were produced for teachers, parents and instructors, all linked to the character attributes.

These resources included session cards to support instructors in developing the character attributes in sessions whilst also linking back
to the National Curriculum. The cards were designed to give even the most experienced instructors lots of great ideas for games, bad
weather alternatives and interactive activities.

But if you don’t understand why you should use them, or think it’s
going to take too long to get your head around what it all means, why would you change what you do?

Tricia continues: “We’ve heard clubs say they run OnBoard sessions
that already bring some of these character traits out so why use the cards? But the resources are about so much more than that. They are really good and it’s not about changing what you do for the sake of it, but having more ideas and inspiration to draw on.”

So far, Tricia, Howard Nelson, Ben Julian and Isolda Marroquin - all familiar faces in the Midlands - have run OnBoard Development Days for the instructors at the following clubs - Midland and Bartley SC in Birmingham, the Leicestershire and Rutland Youth Sailing Association (LRYSA), Himley Hall SC, Carsington SC, Draycote Water SC, Northampton SC, Aztec Adventure, Burton SC and Hollowell SC. 

Walking the walk

Before she started running the Development Days, Tricia, who is also a Senior Instructor at her home club Rudyard Lake, wanted to put the resources to the test.

She admits she went “hell for leather” at trying out the resources not only with Rudyard’s schools and OnBoarders, but all their junior members and Stage 1 candidates to see how it worked for youngsters with different experiences.

Posters of the characteristics went up on the club noticeboard, and before each session, the young sailors would take a look and chat about what they would be focusing on in the session. At the end, they would look back at what they did develop.

“After a while, they started seeing it in each other,” Tricia explains. “And they were saying who they thought should win little prizes for showing determination, or whatever it might be, and why they thought that. They have really liked it.

“Parents have liked it too because they see their children are developing life skills and not just learning to sail, and teachers think they are fantastic too. I’ve been into assemblies to present Stage 1 certificates, talked about the character attributes and related spot prizes too and it has gone down really well. It is really worthwhile.”

OnBoard Development Day at Draycote Water SCPutting it into practice

Tricia’s biggest advice to OnBoard clubs is not to look at the sessions cards as something to learn in their entirety, rather something you can lean on.

There is enough in them to fill a full day. But with many OnBoard clubs running for a couple of hours after school in the week, it’s easy and ok to take part of a session card and adapt it for the time and ability of the group you have.

This reflects the way the Development Days are run – they are tailored for the group. Some have been a full day, some just half. Some have been classroom-focused with others mainly out on the water.

Just like they did at the Midlands Instructor Training Day earlier this year, the team has also delivered sessions using the games from the cards, to demonstrate how you can get information and learning across without explicitly ‘teaching’ a character trait.

Want an OnBoard Development Day?

The plan was to run days across the region for clubs to go along to. But when speaking to clubs, we learned they wanted to know how it could work at their club and how they could use the information for themselves.

So, if you would like an OnBoard Development Day run at your club – or you want to get together with another local club and have one together – please contact Tricia at and she will chat through what you want and arrange for one of the team to come to run it.

If you’re not yet an OnBoard club but are interested in finding out how you could benefit from joining the programme and getting access to the resources and training email