The RYA has awarded £150,000 of Sport England funding to over 17 OnBoard & Sailability clubs and centres to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities in sport and physical activity. Through this funding the venues, located throughout England, have been given individual grants of up to £10,000 that will be used for projects which engage with:

  • Lower socio-economic groups
  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities
  • Disabled People
  • People with long term health conditions

We caught up with some of the OnBoard clubs and centres to find out how they will be using theirgrants;

The grant awarded to Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre will enable the centre to give windsurfing a boost in the Liverpool City Region, which has one of the highest levels of deprivation in the country. This project will enable the centre to offer highly subsided windsurfing and Sailability sessions, which will help make the sports accessible to a much wider audience. 

As well as allowing young people to enjoy the sport, the funding also has the potential to offer employment opportunities to young adults in the region, through the instructor element of the scheme. Part of the project involves adults being offered the opportunity to become windsurfing instructors in exchange for voluntary work once qualified.

Simon Pendlebury, Development Manager at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre believes that windsurfing is a great sport for encompassing all of the character attributes associated with the OnBoard scheme: “As a solo sport it encourages independence and determination to learn and develop the skills whilst growing in confidence. Light Wind freestyle techniques used to build skills allow for creativity and the inclusion of a Team15 race pathway helps to further encourage teamwork and communication skills.

The North West has a reputation for developing some world class sailors, hopefully Crosby Lakeside can continue this legacy and encourage young people to engage with Windsurf racing in a fun and exciting way.”

Simon concludes: “Windsurfing has been in a steady decline for a number of years, without more investment in the sport there is a risk that it could fade away completely. Project’s like this will hopefully engage with a new cohort of budding windsurfers and allow more people the opportunity to experience the thrill windsurfing provides.”

Plymouth Youth Sailing Club, based at the Mount Batten Centre in Plymouth, were delighted to receive the news that they had been granted £10,000 to support its BAME engagement project in 2021.

Targeting some of the most socially disadvantaged areas in and around Plymouth, the club aims to give participants the skills and abilities to help break the cycle of deprivation and see beyond their disadvantage.

As Adrian Kemp MBE, the Club Commodore explains: "Just prior to the first lockdown, we had been about to launch a funding appeal to get this programme under way, after about 6 months of consultation with partner groups working with BAME, Refugee and Asylum seekers in Plymouth."

"The project was very much demand lead, with taster days having taken place in the autumn of 2019 and further activity days, with limited numbers in a Covid secure environment, in the late summer of 2020. We now look forward to planning an updated programme for the spring of 2021. This is of course all in the hope that we will be back to some sort of new normal by then.

"We look forward to welcoming new members from all elements of the community to our friendly club."

As an RYA Training Centre and OnBoard Club, Croydon Sailing Club (CSC) will be working in conjunction with Croydon Youth and Schools Sailing Association (CYSSA) to provide sailing opportunities for local scout groups. Giving young people between the ages of 8 and 14, living in deprived areas surrounding the club, the chance to get out on the water and for many, experience their first ever taste of sailing.

 

The training centre hit the ground running in October by providing taster sailing sessions when the weather allowed. Thanks to the early start, 42 local young people took part, with 25 kayaking sessions (due to strong winds CSC teamed up with the Scout’s canoe instructors and converted some sailing to kayaking sessions) and ten RYA Stage 1 Dinghy sailing certificates were awarded.

CSC has also found that many youngsters turn up ill prepared for water sports and the cooler conditions: they often do not possess suitable outdoor clothing. The funding has allowed the club to purchase a large selection of waterproof outfits which helps keep them dry and comfortable – vital to helping the youngsters enjoy their first experience of sailing. New footwear has also been invaluable, as they can go home in their own dry shoes which sometimes are the only pair they own.

 

The funding is critical to allow CSC to run taster sessions that youngsters enjoy, as Janice Beaumont, Croydon Sailing Club RYA Training Centre Principal, adds: “We want the first taster session to be an enjoyable experience so that they can come back to join in regular sessions. Funding has enabled us to achieve this aim.”

CSC is already seeing many positive changes, as Janice explains: “One parent told me how her daughter’s confidence had improved, as when she brought her along to the lake she could see she wasn’t keen but later that day her daughter told her that she’d had a really good time and wanted to do it again.

“Some children need that extra encouragement to have a go, so offering free taster sessions with all equipment provided and pizza lunch is a good way to get over any reluctance to turn up.”

Janice concludes: “It is a rapid pace initiating youngsters into a half day of sailing under Covid restrictions and we aim to maximise their time out on the water. Instructors have seen spontaneous teamwork taking place to get the boats rigged and launched whilst adhering to social distancing. They develop independence taking to the water for the first time as single-handed sailors and learn much from observing and showing each other how to do certain tasks. On the Stage 1 course we found the team games brought out elements of creativity and cooperation.”

 

Centres awarded funding include:      

Hengistbury Head Outdoor Education Centre     

Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre

Croydon Sailing Club

Lincoln & District Sailing Association

Salford Watersports Centre

Midland Sailing Club

The Nancy Oldfield Trust

Lancashire Outdoor Activities Initiative

Horizons (Plymouth)

Plymouth Youth Sailing

Westminster Boating Base

Islington Boat Club

Andrew Simpson Foundation

All Aboard Watersports Centre

Cobnor Activities Centre Trust

Tees & Hartlepool Yacht Club