South Staffordshire Sailing Club, near Gailey, has been named a British Youth Sailing (BYS) Recognised Club as part of a new scheme celebrating excellence in developing future sailing stars.

The BYS Recognised Clubs initiative sees the sport’s governing body, the RYA, working alongside sailing clubs around the country to promote grassroots sailing and support junior and youth sailors as they develop racing skills.

South Staffs SC was recognised for being a safe and fun environment for youngsters to flourish. Around 80 youngsters are currently involved in regular Youth and Junior training at the Gailey Reservoir-based club, with 20 of these part of South Staffs’ weekly Race Squad, which trains all-year round.

To help introduce more local youngsters to sailing and to give them opportunities to enjoy and achieve in a different sport, the club runs taster sessions for pupils at Chase Terrace Technology College in Burntwood, while 9th Stafford Sea Scouts also use the club every week from April to October.

Tim Coleshaw, South Staffs SC Commodore, said: "Youth sailing is an important part of what we offer as a club because we see sailing as a great way of developing life skills in youngsters whilst also breeding the next generation of competitive sailors.

"Over the last few years we’ve worked hard to integrate our youth programme more closely into the club's activities including introducing youth/adult races and more family-friendly social events. We also entered a boat crewed by youth sailors as part of our team for the popular Southport 24 Hour Race.

“Acheiving recognition as a British Youth Sailing Recognised Club is an important step and we believe we now have a solid platform in place, which we hope will act as a springboard for future success for our young sailors and promote a lifelong enjoyment of being on the water.”

To gain BYS Recognised Club status, a club must run a regular race training programme in at least one of the BYS recognised junior and/or youth dinghy and windsurfing classes and its sailors must compete at BYS Regional Junior Championships at least once every two years.

Training must be delivered by qualified RYA Coaches to RYA Recognised Training Centre standards or equivalent, with a Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in place.

Next month, South Staffs hopes to take a record number of sailors to the BYS Regional Junior Championships in Northampton to start giving more local youngsters the platform to fulfil their potential and to be selected for regional RYA Zone and national RYA Youth and Junior squads, with the chance to compete around the UK and internationally.

Over the next 12 months, South Staffs youngsters will be increasingly encouraged and supported in entering events away from their home club, with the aim to establish a successful winter training programme both at the club and around the region that promotes competition at regional Traveller and some national competitions next year.

Chris Atherton, RYA Senior High Performance Manager, added: “BYS Recognised Club status distinguishes those with a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, delivered in a safe, fun environment. Sailing’s key challenge is to encourage more young people to start participating and progress into racing. This is best done at clubs and successful junior and youth programmes enable a club to flourish."

To find out more about South Staffs Sailing Club visit www.southstaffssailingclub.co.uk or for information about British Youth Sailing go to www.rya.org.uk/racing/youth-junior