The BYS Recognised Clubs initiative is part of a new RYA scheme celebrating excellence in developing sailing stars of the future. It sees the RYA working alongside sailing clubs around the country to promote grassroots sailing and support junior and youth sailors as they develop racing skills.

Helen Hoffman, chair of the RYA London and South East regional team, presented the award. She said: "This award by the RYA is a recognition of KSSA's continued commitment to encourage youth dinghy racing and support young people with the opportunity to enter local, regional and national level race events. Thanks must go to the KSSA committee, volunteer team and the support of parents for their continued dedication in helping young people in the sport."

KSSA commodore Sarah White responded: “I’m delighted to receive the award and pleased KSSA is able to work so closely with the RYA. I feel KSSA provides an important stepping stone on a young sailors’ ladder as they progress from club racing to the open circuit and we provide local racing opportunities for those sailors who travel the country for Squad coaching and National competitions.

“As we are seeing an increasing number of sailors joining our events with parents who are new to sailing we aim to provide friendly events where both sailors and their parents can gain help, encouragement and advice.”

KSSA, which started in the early 1960s “to promote youth sailing in Kent”, currently has 140 members between the ages of 8 and 18 years. Whilst schools still bring their sailors, most members are independent sailors from clubs who wish to train and compete at regattas on the reservoirs, rivers and sea venues that Kent is able to offer. There are monthly training sessions and regattas throughout the year at host clubs across Kent with the help of a hard-working and dedicated committee.

Sarah adds: “KSSA won the National Schools Sailing Association Regatta each year from 2013 to 2017. In the past KSSA sailors have gone on to be Olympic sailors and coaches. As part of our newly awarded status we train our members and encourage them to participate in the BYS Regional Championships and take advantage of RYA Youth Squads.”

Chris Atherton, the RYA’s senior high performance manager, says: “The key challenge for our sport is to encourage more young people to start participating in sailing and progress into racing. This is best done at club level and a successful junior and youth training and racing programme will enable a club to flourish.

“The BYS Recognised Club status distinguishes those sailing clubs with a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, which is delivered in a safe and fun environment.”

Find out more about KSSA here

Find out more about BYS here