Clubs across the RYA Midlands region are invited to enter the 2021 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards for their chance to win a place in the spotlight.
The awards celebrate outstanding achievement and promote the hard work of sailing clubs across the UK, with a finalist for each of the 10 RYA regions plus two wild cards, alongside special commendations in the following categories: Heart of the Community; Modern and Innovative; Sustainability; Inclusive and Open to all; and Boosting Membership.
All RYA affiliated clubs across the UK are eligible to apply and finalists go through to a public vote with the overall winner selected by RYA members, Yachts & Yachting readers and the Awards Panel. Applications for the 2021 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards supported by Gallagher will close at 9am Monday 21st September 2020 and RYA Midlands clubs are urged not to miss out.
Ben Hodgson, RYA Regional Development Officer for the Midlands, said: “Even though it’s been a hugely challenging year, our clubs have continued to inspire their members and the awards are a great way to celebrate that dedication and enthusiasm. Tell us what makes your sailing club special by applying for the 2021 awards – there will be a finalist on the shortlist from every RYA region and it could be your club which goes forward to represent the Midlands!”
Benefits for regional finalist Draycote Water
Draycote Water SC was the Midlands regional finalist in the 2020 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Magazine Club of the Year Awards after successfully implementing a development plan to expand its activities and reduce membership churn.
The club had rejuvenated its prospects by investing in its facilities, supported by a Sport England grant, and by engaging members and the local community, including through groups like Youth & Juniors, Women on Water and Ancient Mariners, new activities like SUPing, corporate hire of the club house during the week, and a packed calendar of events and RYA courses.
With a public vote in the run up to the overall winner being declared, the club found that being shortlisted for a prestigious national award was a valuable way to raise its profile. It was also a fitting climax to a year of celebrations for the club’s 50th anniversary and collecting the award on stage at the RYA Dinghy Show was commodore Jeremy Atkins, supported by fellow club members who made the trip to London.
Among those instrumental in putting forward the club’s application for the awards was Vice Commodore Ian Macwhinnie, who said being a finalist had brought a number of benefits even though the presentation had been swiftly followed by lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had prevented any follow-up promotional activities like open days and training.
A press release highlighting Draycote Water SC’s success led to good local press coverage and three extended interviews on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio, including with some of the club’s young sailors, pictured below in the studio with presenter Lorna Bailey, who were able to share with listeners their love of sailing while highlighting the club’s junior activities and RYA training. The club’s youth and junior section has gone from strength to strength over summer, with beginners’ courses for children fully booked and a number of new faces now participating regularly.
Ian said the awards had also been important for raising awareness within the club, particularly given the difficult months which followed: “The focus we were able to put on the wide range of our activities helped to increase members' awareness of all that is on offer at the club and emphasise what a fantastic club it is that they belong to. This may have fed into the great support we have had for the various coping mechanisms that have had to be put in place with Covid-19, not least of all the great majority of members renewing their membership even when the prospect of sailing was looking very far off.”
The 2021 RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year awards will again recognise and promote the hard work which goes into making sailing clubs successful.
RYA Director of Sport Development Alistair Dickson said: “The past few months have been hugely challenging for clubs, so it feels more important than ever to recognise the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure that others can continue to get out on the water safely and enjoy what they love doing.”
Georgie Corlett-Pitt, editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine, added: “While recent months may have posed many unprecedented challenges for our clubs, they have also brought to the fore the spirit and resilience of the sailing community. This year more than ever we look forward to acknowledging those achievements with the RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards".
For more information on the RYA and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Awards and to complete an application form visit: www.rya.org.uk/go/cluboftheyear