Sailing clubs looking forward to virtual conference

06 Nov 20

Committee members and volunteers are looking forward to the insights and expertise available to support them at this year’s online RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference.

Sailing clubs across the country are booking their places to make the most of this year’s online event as they look to the future following the challenges of 2020. The annual conference usually takes place at multiple regional venues but due to Coronavirus restrictions it will this year be held as a virtual, national event, on Saturday 21 November.

An easy-to-use online platform will make the 2020 RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference more accessible than ever before, with a world-class line up of speakers headlined by Sir Ben Ainslie on the day itself.

 Throughout the weekend there will also be an online expo area where interactive ‘stands’ will offer access to RYA legal, racing and training teams, with bookable 1-1 appointments, live text Q&As, club case studies, regional and Home Country updates, downloadable resources and on-demand video.

A ‘virtual noticeboard’ and videos from clubs across the UK will provide opportunities for delegates to share ideas and learn from others.

There will then be a whole series of webinar ‘workshops’ commencing Monday 23rd November, giving clubs a chance to find out more about topics including recruiting and managing volunteers, environmental sustainability, reducing membership churn, engaging local communities, delivering a great experience to a wider audience, and promoting clubs to potential new members.

Graham Oliver, Commodore at Whitby Yacht Club in North Yorkshire, is among those who have already booked their free ticket for the conference, after the club benefited from RYA support and new ideas after attending in previous years. It has since been able to identify opportunities for training, youth engagement and collaborating with other groups in the town, including stand-up paddleboarding and open water swimming, to diversify and broaden its appeal.

“These ideas all started off at the conference,” says Graham. “You could turn around and say a lot of these are common sense, but it’s not common sense unless you actually get together and start thinking about it. I’d really recommend the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference as we found it to be hugely beneficial. I’m looking forward to attending the one this year online and will be encouraging other members of the committee to take part as well.”

Also booking tickets again this year will be Margate Yacht Club in Kent. A regular attendee is Commodore Susan Anderson, who says: “Over the years I’ve taken anyone from the club who shows an interest. There are so many workshops and you get to choose which ones you want to go to, so we all go to different ones and feed back to each other what we’ve learned.”

Susan says that at previous conferences, the club has picked up ideas for developing powerboating and now has two powerboat instructors delivering courses, and attended sessions about funding and legal issues, Women on Water, and Sailability. “The conference is interesting and informative and gives you new insights you probably haven’t thought of before which you might be able to incorporate into your club. It inspires you to improve and gives you fresh ideas for what you can do.”

Cransley Sailing Club in the Midlands introduced Stand Up Paddleboarding and gained more than 40 new members, increasing to 77 since lockdown, after attending an RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference and hearing a talk by Glossop SC about SUP'ing. As Commodore Nigel Austin explains: “I think a lot of people go to the conferences to do exactly what I did, which is to glean the best bits and then think ‘what will work best for us’. It’s useful to hear what other clubs are doing.”

A successful drive to recruit volunteers at Emsworth SC on the south coast meanwhile was inspired by last year’s theme of ‘putting people first’. Honorary Treasurer Joe Burnie sums up: “I went along to the Affiliated Clubs Conference with an open mind and it was really useful to hear all the stories from other clubs about volunteering. The conference was great for ideas and there’s real value in chatting to other clubs and seeing what they’re up to.”

Tickets for this year’s conference are free and there's no limit on the number of people attending from each venue.

Officers, committee members and volunteers are invited to book now, even if they are not yet sure about their availability, because the live content will also be recorded and available to delegates afterwards.

For all the details about this year’s RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference and to secure your FREE ticket visit: