Over the last 16 years the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship has seen thousands of young boaters take part in the championship, honing their skills at the throttle and learning invaluable safety and boat handling skills.

But to ensure the future success of the championship there is a need for more clubs to run heats that feed through to the Area Finals.

“Clubs are key to the success of the programme”, explains Andrew Norton, Powerboat Projects Manager and Event Director. “Not only is it a great way to build the confidence and boating skills of the youngsters taking part, it is a great way to drive participation and membership at the club, by introducing new activities to take part in”.

So what do you need to do to get involved in 2018? Will Baldock, Honda RYA Youth RIB Coordinator for the Midlands shares his top tips on getting started and setting up a heat at your club.

No experience needed

Youngsters from the age eight to 16 can take part in the championship and no previous experience is necessary, although confidence of being on the water is helpful. A competent adult/instructor will be in the boat to explain the controls and ensure it’s undertaken in a safe environment. For the young competitors its great fun, as they get to do something out of the ordinary and enjoy being trusted.

Where you stand on insurance

Many clubs tells us that their insurance won't let them 'race' powerboats so they can't do Honda Youth RIB. However because it is not powerboat racing, it is a programme designed to develop and test the RIB driving skills and control of our young coxswains, it is considered a controlled training activity. As long as the RYA’s Honda Youth RIB and powerboat training guidelines are followed you’re covered.

Selling it to the kids…

Imagine telling a 10-year-old they can drive a RIB; something that is powerful, done by grown-ups, and that few, if any, of their schoolmates will ever have done. That’s a pretty big hook to a kid! Plus there’s the chance they could achieve something really impressive at area and national level and see themselves in the news!

…and to your members

Think about the impact on your club if you have both adults and other youngsters seeing their young clubmates driving RIBs skillfully and responsibly. It sets a safety precedent and is also huge in terms of your club building up a stock of good young drivers, keeping youngsters involved at your club for longer and marketing your club’s wider reputation as a safe, responsible training venue.

So what does a club heat look like?

You can organise your heats however works best for you. One way could be to copy the area/national finals format, so having boat familiarisation/practice with a competent adult/instructor, including a course mock-up, before going through timed runs through a replica course. Meanwhile, some clubs choose a more structured training approach, following the RYA Level 1 Scheme. As the training progresses they choose their representative(s) and start further training on how to approach the course. 

How many pairs of hands are needed?

How many volunteers you need, which can be parents of those taking part, depends on how your club decides to run your event. A heat similar to the area/national finals will need someone to coordinate, a timekeeper or two and a competent adult / instructor in each competing boat (Minimum RYA Powerboat Level 2 but a Powerboat Instructor is preferred). For a training-based approach, you need qualified RYA Powerboat Instructors are required, within teaching ratios.

Clubbing together

Running a club heat for the first time can be a bit of a daunting step into the unknown, for organisers and volunteers, so why not team up with another local club(s) and work together to run a heat? This reduces the number of resources / volunteers needed, and you can rotate the events around this cluster?

Building a powerboat foundation

If you look to integrate powerboat training for youngsters into your standard club activities, Honda RYA Youth RIB can become just something else they do each year. Youth training sessions can help build skills from a young age with the ultimate aim of them becoming your next safety boat crews. When running RYA Level 1 and 2 powerboating courses, open them up to the younger members too. Remember candidates as young as eight can do the Level 1 Start Powerboating course with the Level 2 from 12 (all candidates under 16 being issued with an endorsed certificate).

The final call

The Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship is designed to develop powerboating skill and control. Many participants go on to perform key roles in clubs to support training and racing as safety boat crews as well as becoming instructors themselves. The youngsters benefit in different ways too, from building confidence and broadening boating skills to potentially opening up career opportunities. Then there is the small matter of your club also having the chance to win a new RIB and engine.

What you can do now to prepare for 2018

  • Keep an eye out for the 2018 Area Finals dates so you can plan your club sessions/heats
  • Look at running youth RYA Powerboat Courses - remember the minimum age for PB1 is 8, and for PB2 it's 12 (both endorsed certificates for under 16s)
  • Come along to your local RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference, taking place throughout October, November and December, and find out more about the programme.

For more information

To find out more about the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship here  or alternatively email Benn Freeman, National Event Manager – hondayouthrib@rya.org.uk