So that was summer 2017! Well, almost. As we reflect on this season's successes and things that haven't gone so well, we start to turn at least one eye to preparing for the 2018 season.
You will see from our story on the RYA Midlands Regional Plan 2017-2021 that both increasing the diversity of club membership and increasing the number of instructors and race coaches are key objectives for us over the next four years.
I looked at instructor course participation with a view to understanding why numbers had been falling so we could start exploring how to turn this around. In case you missed this article in July it provides some context - Inspiring new instructors and coaches to refill Midlands talent pool
But while doing this something else leapt out at me.
Typically only 20-25% of candidates on Senior Instructor courses in the Midlands are female, yet at Dinghy Instructor level it is much closer to 50%. In turn, at just 33% the Midlands' female club membership percentage is one of lowest in the country.
We know anecdotally from clubs running successful women's projects that having female instructors leading on and supporting the sessions has an impact on participant confidence and retention. Manor Park SC is a good recent example of this - This Girl Can As Sailing Delivers 'Wow' Factor At Manor Park
If we want to redress the gender balance of club membership, including though supporting you in promoting Try and Start Sailing 'This Girl Can' projects and creating and developing regular opportunities to increase female club membership, then building up a base of female instructors, especially SIs will be key.
As a result we are launching a new project to increase the number of female instructors and SIs in the region.
If you have any potential female SI course candidates, even if they are one or two years away, we want to hear about them. To kick the project off we plan to hold an Aspiring Female SI Day (details to be confirmed) and the project will include supporting aspiring SIs with action plans and CPD days.
The project will be led by one of our regional Sailing Development Officer, Tricia Ordsmith, and myself. So please drop either of us a line if you have any potential candidates or you yourself are interested in taking advantage of this tailored opportunity to upskill - Regional Team Contacts
Identifying instructor course demand
We will shortly be issuing a short survey to our clubs and training centres to complete so we understand your training requirements for the winter. Once we have this information, we can either help you set up the required courses at your club or set up a course near to you for a pod of local clubs/centres.
Meanwhile, RYA Training's Instructor viewpoint survey is still open and whether you are an instructor, coach or trainer - existing or aspiring - we would really appreciate your input in helping us understand the barriers to becoming an instructor.
This survey will help us find out if changes need to take place to the instructor training courses themselves, and if so, what they might need to look like in the future. The team are particularly interested to hear from anyone who perhaps aspires to progress along a pathway within the RYA Training schemes but for some reason (other than lack of experience) has been unable to do so.
Making the most of character strengths research
You have probably seen by now that the RYA OnBoard team have been working with Professor Bill Lucas from Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning and Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester on how sailing can build character. These findings are starting to inform how OnBoard will be delivered in clubs and centres into the future and more detail on this will be coming soon.
However in the meantime there is nothing to stop you starting to think about how you can use these findings to promote sailing as a sport for youngsters locally to engage parents, schools and other youth groups. And could you also be thinking about how to adapt your current sessions to better instil some of the character strengths that Prof. Lucas has identified that sailing can nurture?
Of course a lot of this also applies to teaching adults too, especially those might be a bit nervous.
We are planning to run a workshop on this at the Midlands Instructor Training Day at Rutland on 24 February, so save the date! These articles will also hopefully help to give you some ideas...
Click on the image below for a great video too...
NSSA Team Racing coming to Midlands again :)
It's great news that a Midlands club has been asked to host the National School Sailing Association (NSSA) Single Handed Team Racing Championships for the fourth time in five years.
Following in the footsteps of Hollowell SC (2013), Bartley SC (2014) and 2016 Aztec Adventure, Upton Warren (2016), Banbury SC will welcome around 180 sailors from across the UK for the event on 7-8 October.
NSSA competitions are some of the biggest and most inclusive, prestigious regattas in the country, which serve as achievable milestones for young sailors who take part, so it's fantastic to see this event once again return to the Midlands. Good luck to the sailors from all our regional school sailing associations taking part.
The Midlands has a Honda RYA Youth RIB champion for the fourth year running! Following hot on the heels of her big sister Kamila in 2014 and 2016 and Girton SC's Max Mawer in 2015, Aga Czartolomna has been crowned the 2017 8-12 years national champion!
This means that her sailing club, South Staffs SC, will receive its third new RIB in four years as a result of its youngsters' Honda RYA Youth RIB success. Kamila also became the first person to ever retain the perpetual Champion of Clubs Trophy at the national finals in Southampton on Sunday 17 September.
If you would like this to be your club in the future, find out more about how you can make the Honda RYA Youth RIB Championship work for you at November's RYA Midlands Affiliated Clubs Conference.
Here's to an Indian Summer! Until October...