The 2024 RYA Training Conference supported by Gallagher, proved to be a sell-out success, attracting 250 delegates from over 130 RYA recognised training centres, 21 exhibitors, and 20 presenters (January 27-28).
The event was held in Oxford but was also made accessible for over 200 virtual attendees from across the globe who streamed the conference live online. Representatives across all schemes joined from as far away as New Zealand, the USA and across Europe.
RYA Chief Instructor for RYA Powerboat Scheme, Rachel Andrews opened the event with a warm welcome, engaging the audience with live polls as she set the stage for the two-day conference.
Safety was at the top of the agenda with Captain Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) sharing insights and lessons learned from recent accidents. There was an emphasis on the key roles played by trainers and examiners in upholding the standards that keep participants safe on the water.
The next stage of the conference allowed delegates to break out into smaller groups to share successes, challenges and ideas to ensure RYA training schemes remain relevant to future boating.
First-time attendee Keiran Evans from Inspiring Learning at Skern Lodge expressed: "It's good to be here; I am learning a lot. It's great to talk to other training centres since ours is quite secluded in North Devon, away from other powerboat centres, so it's nice to mingle and get ideas."
The conference also featured nine interactive workshops with topics including; 'Engaging with your local community through schools and colleges', 'Paris 2024' with Simon Rowell, Meteorologist for the British Sailing Team, 'Roles and responsibilities within your RYA recognised training centres', 'Lower carbon options for vessel operations', 'Update on digital first navigation' and 'Small vessel code updates'.
One of the workshops was led by Rachel Griffiths. This was an interactive workshop on 'How to be a natural leader'. Rachel emphasised the connection between thinking, feeling, and actions, highlighting the leader's role in initiating change through human connection and communication.
Melanie Bartlett, author of RYA publications, led a workshop on Trans Inclusion with simple guidelines on terminology and fostering better understanding. The session addressed topics including shared facilities and differences in generational perception and was so well received it ran over time!
There was also a choice of tech talks, 15-minute sessions with exhibitors sharing the industry’s latest products and innovations including Icom, Imray, Navionics, RS Sailing, Spinlock, Tushingham, Yamaha, Melges, Fusion Sail boats, 3Dimensional Studio, Savvy Navvy, Raymarine, OTC, ePropulsion and Gallagher.
Lance Godfrey from NavvyMaps, the UK Distributor for Navionics said: “We have been exhibiting here for a number of years, it’s a great opportunity to meet the RYA instructors that are using our products and app face to face and answer their questions as they are using Navionics regularly in their training”.
Richard Falk, RYA Director of Training and Qualifications rounded off the day with an annual update and positive news before delegates enjoyed some time out ahead of dinner.
He said: "The conference was a resounding success covering a more diverse range of topics than ever before and the feeling throughout the two days was one of positivity and change.
"It was a pleasure to see so many of our instructors, examiners, trainers and school principals in person and all under one roof. The excitement about the Together on Water strategy and new developments in electronic navigation were two of the stand - out takeaways from the event.
"To all who attended this year, it was great to see you, and for those who couldn’t make it, we hope to see you in 2025.”
Karen Melling from Exe Sailing Club shared: "I come to the conference to keep myself up to date with the latest developments and it’s great to meet people and hear about the different ideas and solutions and also to keep in touch with the RYA”.
Freelancer Instructor and Training Conference veteran Julian Rowlandson explained: “I’ve been coming to Instructor conferences since 1990. I return each year for the great and interesting content, to stay updated on sail training, and to network with a diverse group and to learn from others' experiences."
A small selection of key updates and workshops will be made available as recordings on the RYA Training Support Site in the coming months. A number of the presentation slides will also be available as PDFs for anyone that was unable to attend.
For more information about future RYA conferences and events, visit our events hub.
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