RYA Sailability update

08 Mar 20

Updated on March 18th 2020

Hi everyone

It was great to see so many of you at the National Conference lastmonth; there were some 184 delegates from 60 Sailability sites across thecountry, which especially considering the storms was absolutely fantastic andwe're so grateful to everyone who made the effort to come.

I'll be reflecting on some of the key takeaways from that in thisblog.  With the evening's getting lighter I'm sure we're were all lookingforward to the season getting underway but clearly that is going to be hardwith the current situation.

Advice on Coronavirus

The government have asked us all to minimise social contactand avoid non-essential travel in order to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.The RYA has postponed its directly organised events and training until at leastApril 30. We encourage the Sailability community to review their own activitiesusing the latest public health guidance. We remain more aware than ever of theneed to protect those who are at greatest risk from the virus.

In this difficult and challenging situation ourfocus will be on supporting the Sailability community to ensure it comesthrough this period in as strong a position as possible, and doing everythingwe can to encourage people to stay active and connected, wherever possible,which we think is now more important than ever.

We willfind creative and flexible ways to continue to offer support and guidance.Please do stay in touch and let us know your thoughts and plans as the days andweeks unfold.

You can findthe latest from the RYA here:



RYA Coronavirus FAQ's for Clubs and Centres.

Update on safety

In the summer I reflected on the fatality at Blackwell and the safety notice published by the MAIB. Those reflections have continued and safety remains an important theme for many of the conversations we're having with Sailability groups. The MAIB have now fully investigated the incident and a final report is expected very shortly. What further reflections have there been?

So we can all provide assurance and visibility around safety, the RYA and the Sailability programme has a responsibility to:

  • Be learning led
  • Promote safety awareness, drawing on good practice from across the sport

To be learning led we have to accept we won’t know all the answers, but it's a continuous process about:

  • planning (for the worst), preparing and practicing
  • making sure everyone involved is familiar with the vessels, the equipment in use, and the people who go sailing
  • sharing and learning from incidents and near misses

Thank you sharing your learning from the procedures and drills you've tested. Recognising it could happen to you, and planning to minimise the risk is at the heart of safety.

At the conference we ran two workshops and published safety guidance reflecting what we know from the MAIB, previous incidents you have told us about and learning we have gone through at the RYA. The guidance covers a range of issues particular to Sailability, from choices around personal flotation devices, adaptations like servos and switch control to self-righting boats. It's just guidance, and is about education not legislation. But it's there for clubs and centres to apply to their local environment.

There are also some courses and refresher days coming focusing on safety. More will be announced soon.

  • Safety Boat course - 1-2 April 
  • Disability Awareness Training, Norfolk - 8 April
  • Disability Awareness Instructor course - 23 April
  • Southern Safety Boat Day – April (TBC) at Southampton Water Activities Centre
  • South West Safety Boat Day – April (TBC) at Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre, Plymouth

Future strategy and securing investment in RYA Sailability

Sport England have been major investors in the Sailability programme. What do we know Sport England’s current thinking about future investments (2021-25)? This webinar provides some insight - Shaping our future strategy. The highlights include:

  • There is likely to be a continued focus on the purpose of sport and activity, the benefits and outcomes around activity and individual and community development and it's likely Sport England will continue to disproportionately invest in the stubborn inequalities, e.g. socio-economic, gender, disability.
  • People and volunteers will be key - it's often key individuals that make or break projects. Volunteering is becoming episodic and, across sport and activity, we have an ageing population who sustain a huge amount of activity.
  • Successful projects are rooted in local communities, so the solutions to getting more people active will come from the needs and aspirations of local communities.
  • Sport can't change anything by itself, so collaboration and partnership with others will be important
  • It's easier to book a takeaway online than anything to do with activity. How can we share data and get the digital side of things right so people know what's on, where and how to book it?

Clubs and centres are at the heart of UK boating so now is a good time to find out about the issues important to you, the achievements in recent years, and the remaining challenges. That's why we're asking you to help identify how we can support what you want to do in the future. 

Sailability venues have been sent two toolkits. They are meant to be flexible - there is a 30 minute version if you only have a short amount of time, or a two-hour version if you have longer. It can be a group exercise or you can do it on your own. If you have already had similar discussions or developed strategies for the long term please share these and don’t feel you have to repeat the exercise. This video is a useful starting point... 


You can get the answers back to us anyway you like. There is an online form, or take a photo of any notes you have from your conversations and email them to us. The important thing is we hear about what's important to you. Let us know if we need to resend the toolkits.

Apply for #MoreThanSailing support

Our #MoreThanSailing campaign is helping collectively spread knowledge, understanding and engagement in Sailability. Here is the #MoreThanSailing workshop Conference presentation.

We're now offering support to 20 more venues to get the most out of the toolkits, which includes a social media and website audit, social media / digital skills training and a regional workshop. Please email joff.mcgill@rya.org.uk by Monday 16 March if you'd like to take part. You can also download the #MoreThanSailing assets to help promote your next message - RYA Asset Bank (password: sailability).

Investing in Sailactivity 

Sailactivity is our digital evaluation tool, aligning what you're doing with priorities for sport and activity in the UK and helping to you get more support. Check out the Sailactivity conference presentation or create an account and take a look for yourself - Sailactivity.

We're offering a small investment to venues who want to develop volunteers, create demand and build capacity in return for using Sailactivity. If your club or group would like to be considered please email connie.lebrun@rya.org.uk and tell us what you will do with the investment and consider how you can fully commit to implementing the use of the tool.

The season ahead

At the conference, there was a real buzz and excitement for all that lies ahead this year. Details of some of the big events we're looking forward to can be found in the Spring 2020 news round up. We hope the weather is kind and we have a great start to the season.

Look after each other,