RYA Midlands blog – March 2024

Ben's Buzz! Catch up with all the latest news for clubs and centres in the Midlands with Regional Manager Ben Hodgson...
12 Mar 24

Draycote Sailing Club

It’s been an extremely busy month on the road for club visits, conferences and events, and it feels like everything is really ramping up for the start of the new season.

A highlight for me was the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show when it was fantastic to see a Midlands club taking the glory in the RYA Club of the Year supported by Gallagher awards.

Massive congratulations to Draycote Water Sailing Club on scooping the overall Club of the Year title after winning the Young Person’s category. This was well deserved in recognition of the huge efforts by the club to develop opportunities for youth and junior sailors.

Whatever the size of your club, there are elements we can all take from the experiences of our Club of the Year to inspire the next generation - whether that’s fun junior club sessions, RYA courses or race coaching, or encouraging young people to give back as instructors, buddies for rookies, or even as race officers.

It was the whole picture at Draycote Water which impressed the judges. Read more about Draycote Water SC’s activities and about their Club of the Year win!

Regional Training Day

Another big event was our Regional Training Day, which saw over 80 instructors and volunteers from across the Midlands gathering at Rutland Sailing Club.

Everyone had some really good conversations and the room was buzzing when we all got together in the morning. We had a range of sessions on shore and then probably the broadest range of on the water activities we’ve ever had for a training day.

For the first time in forever we also had sunshine and a decent breeze! It was perfect conditions and we had everything from single and doublehanded dinghy sailing to powerboating – including an electric engine – winging and two different keelboats to try.

All had a chance to ask questions and build their knowledge and skills, and it would be great if everyone could now take back what they’ve learned to their own clubs and centres.

A big thank you to our 15-strong delivery team for the day - volunteers giving up their time to share their passion for the sport - and to the club for hosting and everyone who came along to get fired up for the new season!

Half a dozen people rigging two keelboats on the pontoon at Rutland SC for the Regional Training Day with the clubhouse in the background.

Instructor opportunities

We have a dozen people currently taking part in an RYA Senior Instructor Course which has been hosted by Rutland SC and Nottingham SC. This will be a hugely welcome boost for clubs and centres in the region ahead of the busy Spring and Summer period.

Other current opportunities for skills development in the Midlands include an OnBoard Development Day, a Women’s DISCO (Discover Instructing & Coaching) Day, a Powerboat Instructor Course and another RYA Senior Instructor Course.

Find all our upcoming courses for instructors on the RYA Events hub.

Learning & Development Bursaries

Remember that our RYA Midlands Learning & Development Bursaries are open for applications, with grants of up to £250 (individuals) or £1,000 (clubs, centres & groups) to support training and projects which boost capacity and participation in the region.

The deadline for this year’s round of funding is looming so please do find out more and apply by 31 March 2024.

Club forums

We have three in-person forums for clubs this month with our RYA Midlands Spring Workshops to explore ways you can strengthen and grow your membership for the future.

The first was at Nottingham Sailing Club and coming up very soon we also have one at Syston Sailing Club near Leicester on Monday 18 March, register now for your place.

Alternatively you may wish to book for the spring workshop at the Andrew Simpson Centre / Bartley Sailing Club, which will be taking place on Wednesday 20 March: sign up.

All these workshops begin at 7pm. Any questions? Contact Tom Davenport, RYA Midlands Sailing Development Officer, who will be pleased to help.

Event trailers

If your club is keen to boost its membership, the RYA Midlands regional team has two event trailers available for you to borrow for open days or high footfall shows and festivals.

Hire is free and each trailer includes an RYA-branded gazebo, flags and leaflets, to help you raise awareness about boating and your activities. One of the trailers also has a simulator dinghy mounted on a swivel stand. Find out more and book an event trailer.

Equipment set out in a green field on a sunny day from one of the RYA Midlands event trailers - including gazebo with 'go sailing' graphic, notice boards and a dinghy on a swivel stand.

Club visits

I’ve been doing a number of pre-season visits around the region to chat about club development plans. If your club would like me to call in, please do get in touch to get a date in the diary.

I’m also available for Ben in a Boat appointments! Let me know if you’d like me to get on the water with the team at your club or centre for a half day or evening over late Spring/early Summer.

Previous visits, for example, have included getting afloat to support powerboat skills at Syston SC, instructor development at Chelmarsh SC and club development at Hollowell SC.

Read more about Ben in a Boat and contact me if you’d like to book in a visit.


Your club should have now completed the new Affiliation process using the JustGo platform. It has been good to chat with clubs and support them with using this for the first time.

If your club hasn't yet completed this, please work your way through the questions and update your details so that we have the best contact information for your venue.

This new way of working will also help ensure RYA support is targeted and focussed in the right way. You’ve told us you need some more time, so we have extended the deadline for responses to Sunday 31 March 2024. Find out more and if you need any help please contact me.

And finally…

For all updates and announcements remember to keep an eye on our social media @RYAMidlands on Facebook and X and bookmark the RYA Events portal for opportunities in the region for clubs, instructors and volunteers.

Until next time,