The OnBoard Fun fleet is back for 2019!

After its successful integration as part of the first British Youth Sailing Regional Championships last year, OnBoard Fun Fleet regattas will once again take place around the country on 28-29 September.

It might be January and September might feel like an eternity away, but we’re mentioning this now for a reason – the event can be an awesome focal point to inspire your OnBoarders to keep sailing with you through the season. And it’s not just in the OnBoard Fun Fleet youngsters can put their skills to the test. Some OnBoarders with a bit more experience feel confident enough to join the event’s Regatta Fleet for coached racing.

So while you’re still planning this year’s activities, factor in taking a team or supporting your OnBoarders to attend your regional event and give everyone something fun, social and different to aim towards.

Rewind

The OnBoard Fun fleet is an ‘event within an event’ as part of the regional end-of-season celebration of all junior sailing. Its aim is to give the youngest or most inexperienced OnBoard sailors their first taste of travelling to an event, sailing at a different location and having fun whilst making new friends and learning new skills.

Although featuring some fun races, it is not racing and prizes are awarded in line with the OnBoard character attributes, such as displaying teamwork, determination and communication. It's 'Games with aims'. Meanwhile, the Regatta Fleet for coached racing is for more experienced youngsters who can sail around a triangle course and want to start to improve their racing skills. It is a brilliant learning experience.

Most regions run OnBoard Regattas during the season, but by adding this focus event to the calendar in September it's hoped it will keep sailors interested until later in the season, while it's also less of a break before they come back next year.

First taste

Bartley SC from Birmingham was one club that took sailors along to sail in the OnBoard Fun Fleet at the Midlands Regional Junior Championships at Northampton SC last year. Two of these were Ben and Shay.

Ben completed his RYA Level 2 with Rockley at Bartley in August 2018 and heard about the event from his friend Theo. Ben felt like it would be a good way to practice his sailing skills and to experience sailing at another club and in the build up was excited and looking forward to participating in a new experience.

Now looking forward to working towards his Stage 3 & 4 this year, and getting more involved in racing when he rejoins Bartley's K20 OnBoard sessions this spring, Ben recommends entering to anyone who has recently started sailing as a great way to try new things in a fun way.

He said: "I really enjoyed trying a variety of activities and learning from the instructors and I was pleased to have tried some new experiences. For example, it was my first go at rigging and sailing a Topper, and my first attempt at dismantling a mainsheet.

"I enjoyed the races at the end, unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of wind though! I love the thrill of being on the water, the speed of the boat and being able to decide for myself how best to tackle a situation."

Shay added: "Sailing is my favourite sport, it used to be football but once I tried sailing I liked it the best. I felt really excited to go to the event because I love sailing and I enjoyed when we were sailing around collecting mini balls. Rigging was very challenging, especially remembering what goes where, but I felt very proud at the end of the day because of what I'd achieved."

Club bonds

It wasn’t just first-timers Bartley had in the OnBoard Fun Fleet either. Cecily borrowed a reconditioned Topper from the club to take part in the Regatta Fleet for coached racing at the East event at Grafham Water. Accompanied by four clubmates who were racing in the Championship fleet, Cecily's first regatta experience whetted her appetite for more serious racing as her skills and results improved throughout the weekend.

She said: “The coaching was very beneficial and really helpful because it built on my previous knowledge and proceeded to make my performance the best it could be. I particularly improved in my race starts.

“The facilities at Grafham were very nice and everyone was helpful and friendly. All in all it was an amazing experience that taught me crucial lessons. As my first regatta it was definitely exceedingly important and has incited an aspiration to go again.”

Part of what made Cecily’s experience was going away with her clubmates as they had a really good time and supported each other with “many laughs over the weekend.” This camaraderie has had enduring implications back at the club too.

As Simon Hardiman, from the club’s sailing committee, detailed: “The event showed that having fun and building team spirit is more critical than winning, something that’s sometimes lost in the junior classes.

“Since the event, the group, which included sailors from Barnt Green who have attended our K20 junior club while their club has been without water, have stuck together and built on their friendships, which has been great for them and the club.”

Where to go

These are the venues for the 2019 BYS Regional Junior Championships. Entries will open in July and we will keep you updated with more information during the year.

  1. North – Derwent Reservoir SC
  2. Midlands – Draycote Water SC
  3. East – Royal Corinthian YC/Burnham Clubs
  4. London and South East – TBC
  5. South and South West – WPNSA

In the meantime, this story from last year might help you think about how to approach the event - Top tips on taking a team to the new OB Regional Junior Champs