Entries for the new British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships open in July and with the inclusion of a new fun OnBoard fleet this is something you definitely want to get your club involved in!

Led by local OB instructors for newer sailors, the fleet will be an awesome, fun regional end-of-season celebration of junior sailing filled with 'games with aims', kids sailing all types of boats, spot and club prizes and heaps of OB club camaraderie.

At last year’s then RYA Midlands Zone Championships at Rutland SC, Glossop SC, from the Peak District, were awarded a shield for being the club with most entrants - 15 across dinghy and windsurfing. Many of these youngsters were from non-sailing families who have come to the club through OnBoard and Team15.

If your club would like to get a team together for this year’s Regional Champs, Viki Packman, Glossop SC’s Commodore and RYA Training Principal, gives us their top five tips on inspiring sailors and parents to go.

Parents are the key

It has to work as an event for sailors and parents. We’ve had windsurfers at the Zone Championships for the past six years, but 2017 was the first year we had dinghy sailors attend too. Because parents had built up friendships in travelling to take their children to T15 and other local racing circuit events, we talked to them about our vision of a combined team at the Zone Championships. They were used to weekend camping, so it would be a sociable occasion too. The kids were the easy sell!

Your experienced sailors are your biggest motivators

All 15 entrants in 2017 had been sailing for at least a year, while in 2016 we had a few windsurfers who had been sailing for less than a year. Peer encouragement in giving the younger or less experienced sailors the confidence to go along is decisive. With the growth of our windsurfing and dinghy fleets, we had enough of those juniors at the ‘top end’ to then motivate their fellow sailors to go along to the event.

Don’t try to do it all yourselves

We deliberately didn’t have a designated club person responsible for coordinating the logistics for the weekend. Individual parents were responsible for sorting out accommodation and parents planned together to transport kit. For the younger or more inexperienced sailors who didn’t yet have their own boats, the opportunity to book the RYA Midlands Topper fleet for the event was a significant, helpful factor.

Make it a real team event

We didn't set out to try to get a big team together, but by building and nurturing a strong junior section, and developing the team spirit, it was the youngsters themselves who pushed their parents to take them on a 200-mile round trip to Rutland Water that weekend. All 15 sailors went with at least one parent, many with two parents, while everyone having club sweatshirts added to the feeling of being part of a team.

Know what you want to get out of it

We always found the Zone Championships to be a fantastic experience for sailors of all levels in a big event, which was run in a junior-centred way. Our juniors have always come home having had so much fun and improved their racing. It’s also great from a club cohesion point of view with parents (sailing and non sailing) and sailors having fun together. We’re already looking forward to more sailors having the chance to enter the BYS Regional Junior Championships. We have a shield to keep!

SO WHERE CAN WE GO?

Eight events are taking place across the English regions and Home Countries over the weekend of 29th and 30th September 2018. Here’s where they are…

  • East - Grafham Water SC

  • London & South East - Queen Mary SC

  • South & South West - WPNSA

  • North - Ullswater YC

  • Midlands – Northampton SC

  • RYA Scotland Youth & Junior Championships - Helensburgh SC

  • RYA Northern Ireland Youth Championships - Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

  • BYS Welsh Youth & Junior Championship - Venue TBA

Full details will be confirmed when entries open but the fun OnBoard fleet will be open to all sailors regardless of experience and ideally under 13 years (over 8). Kit will be available to hire/borrow at some of the events and clubs will be able to have their own instructors at some too. We're super excited about this so watch this space!