Following this year’s record breaking Push the Boat Out we asked three venues to share their PTBO experiences…

Ripon Sailing Club

For the third year in a row, Ripon Sailing Club in North Yorkshire opened their doors and invited people into their club to try dinghy sailing for Push the Boat Out.

Peter Robinson, Sailing Secretary, describes how they ran their event: “We offered taster sessions in three Comets and two Visons and on the day, despite not being bright and sunny, the weather was perfect for taster sessions. Over 300 people turned up which really surprised us - once again it was a third more people than we were expecting.

“Our volunteers played a huge part in making the day happen. Visitors were greeted at the carpark and guided towards the welcome desk where they could register to go sailing. We did this using the RYA PTBO provided form".

As well as the welcome team, the support team did a great job looking after people on the water and made sure everyone had a good experience. The club also did a considerable amount to promote the event, targeting families specifically.

“We emailed leaflets to a large number of schools - luckily we are situated in a large catchment area so for us this is a very effective way to reach a large amount of the people we want to attract” Peter explains. We also used local Facebook pages, set up Eventbrite events, contributed to 'what's on' guides in local newspapers and web based services and targeted local Scout and Guide groups.

"This year in addition we paid for an A5 advert in the School Bookbag advertiser which meant our advert reached a lot of people via their social media partnerships. RYA provided banners were placed on local roads leading up to the event which was also an effective way to get the word out".

The club also offered a membership deal with no joining fee in order to entice people to return.

“On the day we signed 36 new memberships which included 130 people! We also made sure there were training courses running throughout the year following PTBO so it was great to see people booking on to these as well. We also extended the PTBO membership deal for a good few weeks after the event.

“I’d definitely recommend PTBO to other clubs - for us it continues to be even more successful each time we do it” Peter concluded.

Mengeham Rythe SC

Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club on Hayling Island, Hampshire made sure their Push the Boat Out event showcased their club as an active and vibrant community.

Vice Commodore Joanna Lewis explains: “We focused the event very much as an ALL club event, as much for current members to come and join in different aspects of having fun on the water as for visitors. We offered taster sessions for adults and children in a range of boats including Fevas, Laser 2000, plus short RIB and yacht trips to the harbour”.

In the run up to the event the club made sure they were making the most of the opportunities to promote the event to as many people as possible. Joanna continues: “We distributed press releases to the local newspapers and radio stations and also made sure our event was listed on local ‘what’s on’ and media websites. To reach our local community we displayed our PTBO posters in local shops, libraries and clubs and schools on the Island and our banner had a prominent position in the village.

“We relaunched our website just before Push the Boat Out to give a clean and fresh feel and also included a booking form with time slots. We captured people’s details on the day and sent emails to everyone who registered to get feedback and encourage people to come back.

“For us Push the Boat Out was a great 'All' club event - during the day we received six membership applications with more following after the event. Also MRSC Facebook page views rose to over 3,000 (vs average of less than 200 for regular posts)” she concludes.

Babbacombe Corinthian Sailing Club

 “In 2013, our membership was at a low point of under 100. So the 2014 Push the Boat Out event, when got 12 new members, was a huge morale boost for us, and we’ve been involved in every Push the Boat Out event since.”

Jan Hester, Joint Vice Commodore at Babbacombe Corinthian Sailing Club (BCSC) in Torbay, credits Push the Boat Out for breathing new life into the club and helping to get membership back up to over 300 full members this year. Having taken part for the last few years she also believes it’s just the starting point.

“It takes about 20 volunteers to run a good PTBO event, but just doing tasters isn’t enough - you need to offer people something else to follow up. Every year, we’ve been signing people up to a RYA Level 1 & 2 course in the weeks straight after the tasters, and then giving them sailing/crewing opportunities after that”.

BCSC has found that, on average, a third of people who attend the courses actually decide they don’t want to sail after all “We’ve learned a lot since 2014, when we got lovely people, but some didn’t stay, for one reason or another. Every year, we’ve kept refining our offer, and we think we’ve got it about right now – we know we need to give them something straight away, but need to make sure they like sailing and our club before we ‘invest’ in them” continues Jan.

As a result, this year the club gave people who’d enjoyed tasters the opportunity to crew immediately after PTBO, before running a course for them later in the season. The retention rate seems to have improved because of this.

Push the Boat Out gave us a simple solution to increase our membership and showcase our club within a national event. It has been a learning curve and catalyst for getting and keeping members,” concludes Jan. “It is an essential part of our offer and we’re refining it every year.”

RYA Push the Boat Out will run for the whole month of May 2018.

Here at the RYA we are already planning our PTBO 2018 campaign and sourcing resources to support venues that want to take part. 

Clubs and Centres will be able to sign up to be involved in PTBO 2018 from the end of October, so now is a great time to discuss as a club, how you will be involved and get a date in the club calendar.