What is it they say about every little helping? Tees and Hartlepool YC OnBoarder, Ed Jenkinson, 11, recognised a little bit of help can make a big difference when he volunteered for his club's Open Day. That's why he's our Sailor of the Month!
Hi Ed, wow you must really love sailing if you want to inspire others already? How did you get into it?
I had a friend at my old school and he had been sailing at the club for about a year. He told me it was really fun, sociable and was good sport to do and said I should go along with him one evening to give it a try. So I did! The first time was slightly nerve-racking because it was on the sea but I was in a Wayfarer with an adult so I was ok.
So you were bitten by the bug straight away?
I really liked the independence sailing gives you. I started on the club's OnBoard youth sailing pathway and quite quickly got all my Youth Stage certificates. For the first couple of years it was just about sailing and learning new skills, but for the past year I've been racing and am doing Optimist winter training and Traveller events. I enjoy how physically demanding sailing can be, how you have to adapt to different weather conditions and be able to tune the boat to make it go faster.
Is that why you wanted to volunteer for the Open Day?
Yes, the first one I helped at was the club's Push The Boat Out Open Day three years ago. Although I was very young I really like talking to people and I thought by seeing me so confident and enthusiastic about sailing other children and adults might think they could be the same if they learned to sail too.
You've volunteered at Open Days and Try Sailing events every year since. What sort of things do you do to help?
Anything I can that needs doing. I help show people around and give them tours of the club, get them kitted out to go on the water, washing down and drying the wetsuits, filling in forms, all sorts. Most of all I like taking people out on the water.
How do you think having youngsters volunteering at these events helps the club promote sailing?
There were four of us my age helping at Push The Boat Out this year and I do think that inspires people. When parents see a young person sailing and talking about it so passionately they think their child could do the same. Other kids see us and think they could do that too. It makes it more real for them.
What else do you think they see?
Everyone says I'm quite confident and I don't mind standing up and speaking in front of people. Being involved in sailing has definitely helped that. In sailing you have to work with other people, learn new skills and to do things yourself and be independent. I think open day visitors can see that in the young sailors at the club.
What do you get out of the volunteering?
I love being able to show new people how much I love the sport and get a great buzz from seeing them enjoying the sport that I love.
Have you got any advice to young sailors at other clubs who might want to help at their club's open days but feel too shy to ask?
You should do it. Your club will like you helping because they will see the difference that having young volunteers makes to inspiring other children and parents. Even if you're nervous on the first one, and only do little bits to help, you will get more experience and confidence the more you do and you will enjoy them and have fun. As soon as I'm old enough I want to get my Powerboat qualification and start to teach people sailing. Until then I will definitely be back helping out at the open days next year.
Over to Micky Early, Tees & Hartlepool YC Training Principal and RYA Sailing Development Officer (North East), for the final word…
Ed has been an absolute star at our open and Try Sailing days. He's
happy to do any job asked of him and more! Everything from welcoming guests to jumping in a Wayfarer and being on the water. Ed's confidence and enthusiasm is exactly what is needed to give potential new sailors a warm welcome and a positive experience.
He was able to instantly build a rapport with visitors and typical
feedback we had from about him was "What a nice, helpful young man!" He used his initiative to think ahead and if you could package up the perfect volunteer and put it in the body of a 10-year-old that was Ed at
our Try Sailing Day in July.