A Burntwood sailing charity hopes to double the number of young people it gets on the water in 2018 as its current sailors prepare to get back OnBoard this season.
Youth Sailing @ Chasewater (YS@C), part of The Chase Sailing Club, will be scrubbing down their boats and boards on 7 April before they start welcoming new youngsters to discover what sailing and windsurfing are really all about. The charity is part of RYA OnBoard - the national grassroots scheme making it easier and cheaper to get more young people on the water.
YS@C gives anyone aged 10-18 the chance to hone their sailing or windsurfing skills and have fun afloat at low cost during their weekly three-hour Saturday morning sessions. These run until October. Sailors come from local schools, youth groups and families while some use sailing as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Learning to sail has given local Year 7 pupil, Daniel O'Connor, a confidence he lacked a year ago. By his own admission he struggled with school and social situations. But after getting OnBoard with YS@C last May, Daniel finished 2017 with two of the club's end-of-season awards for Most Promising Sailor and Best Attendance.
Daniel said: "Sailing's given me the knowledge I can be good at something. I've become more confident and independent since starting to sail and have also learnt by my mistakes. This has helped in other areas of my life and school as it's made me realise not to give up if I get something wrong but to keep trying until I get it right.
"I enjoy being in charge of the boat, going fast and setting myself challenges. It's also fun to capsize! I like helping people less experienced than me, and this year I want to help teach younger children."
There are plenty of chances for complete beginners to learn the ropes this year as The Chase SC opens its doors for anyone to try sailing or windsurfing for free at its RYA Push The Boat Out open day on Monday 7 May, while its two-day Cadet learn-to-sail course for youngsters takes place on 12-13 May.
Libby Constance, YS@C Training Officer, said: "What sailing can do for young people goes beyond the notion of 'sport'; it's everything else that comes from being on the water in a boat or on a board.
"As well as the physical and mental benefits of having fun in the fresh air, sailing is proven to develop key life skills in young people, including teamwork, confidence, communication, determination, independence and creativity. We're looking forward to helping more young people get OnBoard this year."
The Chase SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of safety and quality.
Last year, the club was nominated for a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service by the Staffordshire Community Foundation in recognition of its volunteering contribution to the local community. Meanwhile, The Chase SC is also launching 'Welcome Back To The Water' social sailing sessions in April, for families who want pre-season refreshers or lapsed sailors with RYA Start Sailing or Windsurfing certificates that want to pick it back up.
Are you a school or youth group interested in getting your young people OnBoard at YS@C? Or a family that's inspired to try something new together this year? Visit www.chasesc.org.uk
for more information.