There's no stopping the S/SW OnBoard Fun Fleet

Pandemic and strong winds aren't enough to stop OnBoarders having fun
29 Sep 20

The combinedSouth and South West RYA OnBoard Fun Fleet took place over the weekend of 26-27 September. Hosted by the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre (ASWC) atWeymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy at the same time as the BritishYouth Sailing Regional Junior Championships (RJC), this fun event was one of aseries happening around the country, and went ahead despite the pandemic andstrong north-westerly winds gusting to 20 knots.

Run by RYAand ASWC staff with help from volunteers, the Fun Fleet involved just 16OnBoarders sailing single-handed Zests each day, due to current restrictions.The youngsters ranged in age from 8 to 13, with skill levels from Stage 2 toStart Racing and they worked in teams of four with one instructor to keep theactivity covid-secure. They were towed to different parts of the harbour tofind a sheltered beach with a favourable wind direction in which to use theirsailing skills, which focused on launching and recovery and boat control andbalance.  

The RYA’swork with the University of Winchester and Professor Bill Lucas has shown thatgetting out on the water helps bring many broader learning benefits toyoungsters. In particular, OnBoard provides an excellent platform fordeveloping six key attributes:

  • Independence
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Determination
  • Confidence

TheSouth/South West event focused on two of these - teamwork and determination –by organising a reaching relay game for the teams in the challengingconditions. As a result, they increased their confidence too.

Socialdistancing, regular contact point cleaning and other precautions were in place.

Rob Howlett,South West Regional Development Officer commented: “There were lots of happychildren who had a great day, increased their skills, made new friends and formany, took part in sailing in a new venue and a different boat.”   

HannahCockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: “This is the third year that theOnBoard Fun Fleets have featured at the RJC and with such a turbulent year I’mreally pleased that OnBoarders were able to get on the water andcelebrate the end of the season.”

The aim ofthe Fun Fleets is to give the youngest or most inexperienced OnBoard sailorstheir first taste of travelling to an event, sailing at a different locationand having fun whilst making new friends and learning new skills. Althoughfeaturing some fun races, it's not racing and prizes are awarded in line withthe OnBoard character attributes, such as displaying teamwork, determinationand communication.