Hundreds of people have tried sailing for the first time at clubs across the RYA North East region following this year's Push the Boat Out campaign.
Sailing clubs and watersports centres are now looking forward to a busy season after many were inspired to then sign up for training or membership packages.
Some 400 RYA affiliated clubs and centres nationwide invited visitors of all ages to try sailing and windsurfing for little or no cost in May, including 28 in Yorkshire and the North East.
Denholme Sailing Club in West Yorkshire was among the venues which took part in the campaign. Club member Tony Lever said the day was a great success despite the cold and blustery weather: "We managed to get everyone on the water who wanted a sail - and no capsizes thanks to our experienced members! We have a few new members who signed up on the day who have now completed the Start Sailing course."
Jonathan Durrans, aged 35, who works as a support manager for a housing charity, was among those who enjoyed his day so much that he decided to join the club, which has a fleet of beginner-friendly boats for newcomers to use.
He said: "The club was very welcoming and even though it was blowing a gale and conditions weren't favourable at all, they still managed to get me out on the water. I signed up for a beginner course and I'm absolutely loving it."
Jonathan (pictured below) was looking for a new sporting passion after recovering from a mountain biking accident and has now found one in sailing.
"When you're on the water it's quite peaceful and there's something about the challenge of you versus the elements that I enjoy," he said. "It focuses your mind and gets you away from normal day to day life. I'm keen as mustard to get racing too!"
Among the successful Push the Boat Out days in North Yorkshire were the events held at Thornton Steward Sailing Club - where 51 adults and 49 children took part, with many subsequently signing up for family or junior memberships - and at Ripon Sailing Club, which saw 160 visitors and gained 15 new memberships.
Those signing up at Ripon SC included families, adding up to 39 new members in total (16 children/under-18s and 23 adults) and working out as a 24.4% uptake in membership from its open day visitors. More than three-quarters had no previous experience of sailing.
Fiona Spence, Youth & Junior Sailing Secretary, said: "New members are already regularly engaging in Fun Friday sessions, improvers sessions, kickstarter sessions (previous experience) and being socially active around the club, which is fantastic. We have now also run several beginner courses which new members attended. We are very much a club run by members for members and the enthusiasm and pride in our club was showcased fantastically well by our existing members to our visitors on the day."
Welton Waters Adventure Centre in East Yorkshire had all its Push the Boat Out day sessions fully booked and more than 160 people went along to Pennine Sailing Club in South Yorkshire, whose Emily Cappleman reported: "We now have a full adult beginners' course and kids club has risen by 10-12 students each week. We are still getting people contact us to ask if they can join after coming to the open day."
Feedback from the day was typical of that given to clubs across the region, and included comments such as "very friendly club, beautiful location, I'll definitely be back" and "we absolutely loved our visit ... the members and organisers could not have been more friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, you've got a wonderful club".
Kielder Water Sailing Club in Northumberland reported having its best-ever Push the Boat Out event over the first May Bank Holiday weekend, with 29 people attending and 19 getting out on the water to try sailing or windsurfing.
Julie Gibbon, Senior Sailing Instructor, said: "One day was very windy and one day there was no wind, luckily one day was just right! As a result we have three new family memberships and one new single member. One family are returning to sailing after many years and all the others are currently learning to sail and some also to windsurf with us. Feedback was all very positive and fingers crossed we might have another three or four new family members in due course."
Sunderland Yacht Club inspired its visitors despite a wild and windy day providing difficult conditions for getting out on the water. Liz Arkle, Rear Commodore (Training), said: "We took 23 memberships on the day including some returning members who had been away for a few years, and a number of new family members with younger children who have already fitted right in!"
Since signing up, many have already completed RYA junior and adult start sailing courses with the club, which hopes to now have the beginnings of a youth fleet, as can be seen in this picture!
RYA Programmes Manager, Michelle Gent commented: “It’s fantastic to hear that so many people have been able to take this opportunity to get active on the water and involved with our sport. The feedback we have started to receive is really positive, with many clubs welcoming new members and visitors returning to keep sailing. Once again, we are hugely grateful to all the clubs, centres and volunteers who have dedicated so much time and effort to make these events happen - it simply wouldn’t be possible without your support!”
Try Sailing this summer!
RYA Push the Boat Out has come to a close, but there are still plenty of opportunities to get out on the water this summer. Supported by the RYA, venues across the UK will be hosting Try Sailing events and open days from June – the end of September.
Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre will be holding a Try Sailing day on 29 June, and Tees & Hartlepool Yacht Club will be hosting an event on 17 August. For information about all forthcoming Try Sailing events around the country visit www.rya.org.uk/go/TrySailing. To find out more about how to get started on the water this summer, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/StartBoating.