RYA Midlands OnBoard Blog - October 2023

Sailing Development Officer Tom Davenport shares training insights and opportunities...
24 Oct 23

Three Fusion dinghies with green and blue sails on a grey day on a lake with a tower block in the background.

A quick change

Running what they thought would be a normal day of taster sessions in the centre turned into an OnBoard masterclass! The instructors had planned to run the well practised taster session they have run a hundred times before, sailing across the wind to the buoys. As they met the group off the minibus that morning, they immediately realised their plans needed to change.

The teenagers from an inner-city youth group had clearly never been faced with the opportunity of going afloat like this before. Peering out over the lake, their body language showed their anxiety without them having to say anything. There was every chance not one of these lads would get on the water that day. After some persuasion, the group got kitted up into wetsuits, while the instructors changed their plans. Their aim was no longer to get them sailing a beam reach course, it was now to give them confidence being on the water. This change of aim totally changed what their session needed to look like.

They no longer worried how long they spent on the water, or even on the jetty, but simply wanted to get them in a boat for the first time and build their confidence. Climbing into the Fusions and feeling the movement of the boat transformed these previously terrified lads. Smiles started to appear on their faces! Some basic paddling and steering around a small area, followed by flagging downwind and a quick trip in the powerboat was all they managed. In sailing terms, the session could have looked like a failure. But it was a huge success. The lads loved it and the session ended in conversations about apprenticeships at the centre!

What made the difference that day? The Senior Instructor had been on an OnBoard Development Day so knew exactly how to adapt his session when that group got off the bus. The change of aim to confidence building transformed how that team of instructors ran the session and totally changed how the group experienced our sport. He even mentioned he had been looking at the newly updated beginner session cards that morning, which had inspired his change of plan, but I suspect he said this just for brownie points!

Three Pico dinghies each with blue sails and two young OnBoard sailors apiece, with the two in the foreground giving each other a high five.

How could training help your team?

Our OnBoard training days are designed to help teams of instructors understand how to craft sessions on the water which improve both sailing and life skills. The refreshed OnBoard scheme uses sailing and windsurfing to develop character attributes like confidence, resilience and teamwork in children and young people with proven success (yes, we’ve even got the research to show its impact!).

We can offer your training team a free training day to help you use the OnBoard programme in your club or centre. As our venues begin to quieten for the winter and we plan for next year, what better time to programme some training for your team?

We are planning some open training days, which anyone can come along to. Or we can run one specifically for your club. Simply get in touch for more details.

Online forum

We’re also holding some online forums to help you think through, plan and develop your youth and OnBoard activity. Join us for the first of these on Wednesday 29th November at 7.45pm: register here.

You will be able to learn more about the OnBoard programme and also share successes from your youth activity this season.