Getting Back OnBoard This Summer

28 Mar 21
Onboard Girl in Optimist, Optimist fleet

As we ease out of lockdown, many OnBoard clubs and centres are eager to restart activity as soon as possible. The RYA Guidance and Roadmap offers lots of advice on how to return to the water, whilst the OnBoard resources provide lots of valuable assistance to help plan for the summer season.

What’s new for OnBoard? 

All of our RYA OnBoard venues have now received new resources which will help provide plenty of inspiration for the season ahead. As well as helping instructors plan fun, successful sessions we believe the new resources will also help encourage regular participation.

Improver cards  

Following on from the first set of OnBoard Session Cards for RYA Stages 1 & 2, there are now Improver Sailing session cards to bridge the gap between the beginner courses and RYA Stage 3 & 4 certificates.

These session cards are designed to support both new and experienced instructors and are packed full of ideas for engaging and motivating young sailors to improve their skills.

Like the first cards, each of the Improver Sailing sessions are linked to an OnBoard character attribute and come as full A4 and A6 ‘pocketsize’ waterproof versions to use off and on the water. But unlike the first set, the new cards can be used in any order depending on the skill or experience level of the group or the conditions.

James Oborne, Chief Instructor/Boatswain at Spinnaker Sailing Club believes the new resources will be a welcome addition this year: “The new Improver Session Cards give us a great resource we can use to help inspire our instructors to plan and deliver great sessions that will develop our young sailors’ in more ways that one."

“It is very easy to keep running the same sessions for a group over and over again, these new resources will help our instructors offer more variation in their sessions, keeping our young sailors engaged, whilst growing and developing as both sailors and individuals.”

How do the cards work?

Every card provides an instructor with an overview of each session, as well as key information and top tips. For example, the Seamanship session is all about teaching sailors how to control boat speed so they feel confident in doing so before attempting a tricky manoeuvre such as Man Over-Board.

There are additional cards too, giving instructors lots of great ideas for games, challenges, bad weather alternatives and interactive ideas.

The cards also include lots of know-how and suggestions for activities and cover:

  • Seamanship – Confidence
  • Boat Handling – Creativity
  • Five Essentials – Independence
  • Racing – Determination
  • Double Handed Sailing – Communication
  • Sail Away – Teamwork

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, adds: “The cards are designed to support instructors to run sessions that not only develop sailing and windsurfing skills but also embed the key OnBoard character attributes.

“Young sailors can find it a big jump in knowledge or skills when they look to progress from RYA Stage 2 to 3, where they just need a little bit of practise time, so these new cards provide ideas which will encourage them to come back each week to continue improving and enjoying their sailing.”

Windsurfing Improver Cards are due to be added to the resources available for OnBoard venues in late Spring, which will likewise aim to support instructors in encouraging children and young people to develop both their on-the-water and life skills.

 Be a show off

Our new resources for this year include a fantastic OnBoard flag. We hope you display your new OnBoard flag with pride. It's a great way of letting your local community know that you belong to one of the most successful grassroots schemes in the country. 

Spinnaker Sailing Club's new OnBoard flag flying high 

Impact Reports

As well as the RYA OnBoard Impact Report which should have arrived at your OnBoard venues, we have also produced the first John Merricks Sailing Trust Impact Report. This report explores the positive impact which the initiative has had on the lives of youngsters and their families. You can read more about the report here.

Resources helping connect with schools

Now that sailing and windsurfing is back on the National Curriculum (being assessed this year for AS-level and next year for GCSE and A-level) there has never been a better time to engage with schools about the many benefits which OnBoard can bring to students – on and off the water.

As we move forward, OnBoard hopes to partner with more schools and help educate teachers about all the wide ranging benefits that learning to sail can bring to young people, including the six attributes which the RYA OnBoard Impact Report identified, and how these can be applied in the school environment.

The OnBoard resources have been designed to help clubs and centres approach schools and demonstrate how learning to sail and windsurf will bring these positive attributes back to the classroom.

As James from Spinnaker SC helps clarifies: “Having the “Guide To Getting The Most From Your OnBoard Sessions” is really helpful for me when I am working with our local schools to map what we can offer as a sailing club against the National Curriculum they work to. This means we can support the school in the education of their students, while also introducing them to the great world of sailing.”

Read more about sailing and windsurfing being reinstated for GCSE, As & A Level here plus how the Department for Education now recognises the importance placed on children developing character in school.

OnBoard Instructor Training

Many OnBoard clubs and instructors have benefited from virtual training sessions over the winter and during the latest lockdown. If your OnBoard venues would like to set up some training for its instructors, please contact your Regional Development Officer in the first instance.

And remember, all OnBoard venues can take advantage of support from your RYA Regional Development Officer and Sport Development Team. If you think you are missing any of the resources, do please get in touch to let us know so we can support you with this.