More than 100 delegates, exhibitors and presenters assembled in the beautiful location of Wyboston Lakes last Saturday [11 February 2023] for the annual RYA Sailability Conference.
After a welcome morning coffee and a catch-up with familiar faces, the delegates looked forward to a busy agenda of the day ahead. The conference format was blended of keynote speakers, networking opportunities and informative, thought-provoking workshops.
The day was launched by Sailability Manager Joff McGill, who warmly welcomed back the conference regulars and offered his extended his thanks for attendance, to new faces into the room. In his opening speech, he highlighted the dual purpose of the conference that it not only gives the Sailability community the opportunity to get excited for to the sailing season ahead, but also that the conference creates a platform to celebrate the community’s collective achievements.
“Last year was all about restarting post-pandemic, but because of the amazing efforts of everyone to rebuild activity, we can start to think about growing again.”
The workshops explored a range of topics, from building racing activity to getting the experience right for volunteers, to creating and adapting sessions for diverse communities. It also included instructive workshops on funding.
A highlight guest speaker was Gillian Scotford from Accessible UK. Gillian spoke about not only improving accessibility but promoting it, so that people have the information they need to get involved. Speaker Inke Hontenbos also provided a valuable guide for delegates to look through equality beyond disability, and really got people thinking about what an inclusive culture looks like.
It wasn’t just workshops. There was plenty of time for networking, sharing successes and examples of overcoming challenges with other clubs and centres.
Throughout the day there were plenty of opportunities for the delegates to talk to the RYA representatives about legal, club development, safeguarding and environmental issues. This year’s conference also had representatives from the company Spinlock. They were on hand with their expert knowledge and shared their experience with lifejackets and buoyancy aids.
One delegate commented: “A great day, lots of knowledge and insight shared and everyone is travelling home motivated for the season ahead.”
RYA Sailability has some 200 locations across the UK and further afield, where sailors enjoy the outdoors, feel freedom on the water, are active, learn new skills and build confidence. For more information, visit Sailability.