While our Olympic and Paralympic sailors were battling for glory in Rio this summer, back at home some 6,000  people were inspired to take to the water and have a go at the sport themselves. 

Try sailing sessions

More than 40 venues nationwide opened their doors and welcomed 4,500 visitors of all ages and abilities to get afloat with free 'try sailing and windsurfing' taster sessions. Supported by the RYA, the events provided the chance for people to discover the feeling of being on the water whilst sampling life at a local club or training centre.

At the Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire over 330 people flocked to have a go at the 'try sailing' day where five local clubs teamed up to offer free taster sessions in dinghies, day boats and windsurfers.

One mum who attended the event from Cheltenham commented: 'I've always wanted to sail and this has inspired me. I've spoken to the local clubs and I will be back for myself and my children".

At Bassenthwaite Sailing Club in Cumbria, 74 people got out on the water in perfect conditions. "Many visitors enjoyed their taster sessions so much they had a second go! At one point there was a queue to enquire about club membership with several people signing up to join on the day" said Adam McGovern, RYA Regional Development Officer for the North West.

RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow

The RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow toured the country during Olympic medal race week stopping at a total of eight venues which have a special connection with our Rio Olympians and Paralympians.

As well as hundreds of volunteers at the host clubs and centres helping to get 1,450 newcomers afloat, visitors could also enjoy tuition and be inspired by British Sailing Team members who attended every Roadshow to help celebrate the achievements of their teammates in Rio and inspire the next generation.

It wasn't only newcomers who were motivated to get afloat this summer. Sailing club member Clive (60) was inspired by the Games to back onto the water for the first time since having major heart surgery.

"Sailing was the light at the end of my tunnel. I thought I'd come back and give it a whirl," said Clive, who attended the Roadshow event at Rutland. "I asked if I could go out to get my confidence back and it was so good to get on the water again. Everyone is so supportive and helpful and having this event to come along to has been great."

The final stop of the RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow was at Alton Watersports Centre in Ipswich coinciding with the Paralympic sailing medal race day. Visitors of all abilities enjoyed taster sessions in specially adapted boats provided by local Sailability group the Woolverstone Project.

"This summer our aim was to prove to the public that sailing is an accessible, affordable sport that can be enjoyed by all so we're absolutely delighted that so many people got out on the water and experienced our fantastic sport" said RYA Director of Sport Development Duncan Truswell.

"We'd like to thank all the clubs, centres and volunteers that supported us by welcoming visitors and running taster sessions this season. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Volvo Cars UK for supporting the RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow which was a great success. We are now busy planning more opportunities for people to discover sailing and windsurfing in 2017".

If you'd like to find out more information on how to get out on the water and the opportunities near you visit www.rya.org.uk/startboating