The RYA Scotland team has, like most people, had to change the way they work quite a lot over the past four months as COVID-19 brought the country into lockdown and stopped people meeting face to face. The impact has been different for every individual, club, centre and marina. For lots of people the new focus for 2020 was to keep safe and then to try to make the most to learn from this new situation we all find ourselves in. Has lockdown changed our ways of working in the future? 

The Connect sessions are something that all the team have been proud of and genuinely feel have made a difference. COVID-19 put a stop to staff driving all over the country to meet clubs and centres and everyone had to quickly get to grips with video calls. The weekly Connect sessions mean RYA Scotland staff, club volunteers, centre staff and others have been able to catch up, ask questions, vent frustrations, share ideas and plan for ways we can run our sport in the future. 

Nikki Stewart, Coach Development Manager said: 

When lockdown was enforced, we wanted to be able to offer as much support as we could but with 160 Recognised training centres in Scotland, this was not easy task.  Every centre was affected differently, and some were right on the edge of folding. We wanted a platform to be able to highlight the opportunities available and share information between our community.  We also wanted to have honest conversations and really understand what was happening to our centres and clubs across Scotland.   

We felt it was important to offer something for Training Centres specifically and so set up the first RTC call.  This had centres from across nearly all the disciplines.  Although we had a great discussion, it was difficult to dive too far into the details as the needs of the group were so varied.  From feedback, we broke the RTC calls into four different groups, Dinghy and Windsurfing, Powerboat, Shorebased and Cruising.  This allowed us to keep the information more relevant and helped to build relationships between the centres on each call.  As a group we decided on the regularity and the format of the sessions.  Across all of our sessions, we have had 113 attendances with 40 individual people engage from 34 different centres. We are really pleased with the calls and are really keen to maintain a regular online opportunity for our community to connect”. 

Liza Linton, Development Manager said: 

The discussions on these sessions have ranged in topic from how to communicate with members/clients, how to support and engage sailors & windsurfers when we can’t get on the water, financial constraints and worries, to opening up for social sailing, to cleaning of toilets and more recently to activity that clubs can look at and potentially plan for. Throughout this time, our role has been to facilitate those discussion opportunities in order to allow our dedicated volunteers and providers the chance to ask questions, bounce ideas off each other, learn from best practice and even discuss the potential increase in the local community of the club and the resulting potential membership increases (for some). We have also used the online sessions to help formulate our RYA Scotland Club & Centre Guidance due to the practical questions and solutions that have been discussed 

We are currently reviewing the Connect sessions, moving them to once every two weeks and are now introducing a theme/topic for the discussion. The next Connect sessions are: 

  • 12th August – Topic: Moving on (from where we are now) and Future Activity   
  • 26th August – Topic: Guidance Update and Support 

Launching the Off The Water podcast was another exciting development and the RYA Scotland team were hopeful it would offer another way to engage with the boating community. Having difference voices talking about all different subject matter has been the aim and hosts Nikki, Jack and Robin have been really enjoying this new venture. Our latest episode was split into two parts to talk to centres and clubs about how they are finding their way back to getting on the water again. Have a listen and then please do take a few minutes to complete our podcast survey to let us know what you think. You could even be lucky and win an Overboard Rucksack! 

Link to Podcast 

Link to Podcast Survey 

Lockdown did not stop the Performance Team either as they rose to the challenge of ensuring all the sailors and coaches kept learning and practicing despite not being able to get on the water. Matt and Kate have been using Virtual Racing and Hive Learning to keep junior sailors engaged with their class academy coaches with challenges to complete and theories to learn. They are now organising small group training sessions at a variety of clubs aimed at the junior pathway. Encouraging youngsters back to the water and giving them a taste of class academy training with the coaches, these sessions are specifically catered to the club members and are free! The coaches have all been hard at work too using the time off the water to attend webinars and workshops to reinforce learning and take part in discussions. Setting dates for the winter academies and looking at ways to give more coaches experience of working with the academies and head coaches are keeping Matt and Kate busy at the moment   

Keeping everyone up to date with the latest information and guidance from the Scottish Government and helping to guide both individuals and organisations as they prepare to return to the water has been a huge piece of work over the last few months. With huge amounts of information to digest and then very little time to produce our own guidance documents, it has been a great team effort. For all the latest information you can refer to the Guidance section on our homepage and of course, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At the moment the whole team are still working from home but we are still here to help as always.  

Not a member of the RYA or has your RYA membership expired? You can join or renew your membership online – www.rya.org.uk/membership