Push the Boat Out (PTBO) is nearly upon us, and during May you and your family, friends and colleagues can get out on the water and try sailing and windsurfing.

During May six venues across West Sussex are running free or low cost try sailing taster sessions. With sailing being one of the most inclusive sports around, there are plenty of venues able to cater for people across the spectrum of disabilities and activities for people of all ages.

You can find the dates and full details of your nearest event at www.rya.org.uk/ptbo and get on board for a new adventure! If you haven’t sailed before, or would like to return to sailing, come along, and why not bring your family, friends and colleagues.

But what, you may ask, has PTBO ever done for us in West Sussex? Here, two of those who started sailing through PTBO tell their stories:

Sarah Butler from Felpham Sailing Club writes: Our family started sailing after the PTBO event at the club last May. Previous to this, my son Jim (was 14), daughter Rowan (17) and I (42) had never sailed – in fact the only boat I had ever been in was a ferry.

We had a great day and it led to Jim doing cadet sailing at the club, then the club and schools regatta, and then we borrowed a club Tera and he’s been learning over the Winter too. Rowan and I joined a week’s summer school for stage 1 RYA in the school holidays and I joined the Thursday evening Women on Water group.

We have stepped up to family sailing membership for this year and Jim hopes to continue to improve whilst Rowan and I are feeling a bit competitive and want to learn to race. We’ll both be signing up for the ladies’ group this year.

It’s been a lovely experience – everyone at the club and any places we’ve visited has been supportive and kind about our frequent rookie sailing errors and we’ve always felt welcome.

Vicky Collins of Pagham Yacht Club has had a rapid transition from starting sailing to becoming rear commodore sailing. She writes: Back in spring 2016 my girls brought home yet another bit of paper from school; Pagham Yacht Club were having a Try Sailing day - could they go ? It was free, local and sounded fun so off we went with a couple of friends. All the children had fun and got wet whilst we watched and half wished we were also having a go. Forward a couple of months and another slip of paper. This time us mums also tried a kayak although we left the boats to the kids. It seemed fun and when they said they were running an offer the kids seemed keen, so we signed them up and spent a fun summer watching them learn to sail whilst getting to grips with our new kayaks - first step on the midlife crisis....

In February 2017 renewals came around and we decided that joining as full families would make it a real family hobby - and cut the bar bill! Come the start of the season and we were drawn in to pulling launch trolleys, helping with RIB duties and occasionally in my case balancing out the boat on blowy days. Towards the end of the season I booked an Autumn sailing course and my RYA Power Boat level 2 course - I felt they would be good experience and fun but nothing more. At the end of the season our rear commodore sailing stood down and there was a distinct shortage of hands going up - it was suggested that I take it on and after being assured of plenty of support I agreed.

2018 was a whirlwind of learning. I bought boats, produced a sailing calendar, and learned a lot about organising people and events. In between race duties and helping our youth captain shape our young sailors I got a bit of time out on the water in club boats, experienced my first capsize and learned to trust my instincts.

I'm looking forward to a packed 2019: personally the aim is to spend more time sailing myself and hopefully to start racing, there’s so much happening with the club and I’m really looking forward to our two open events and driving the club forward.

So I have gone from a warm weather beach walker to out on the water in all weathers. What joining has really brought though is a sense of achievement, community, resourcefulness, determination and pride - those qualities stay when the wetsuit comes off and are completely reflected by all my sailors from 8-80. Do I recommend joining your local club? Yes, 100% yes.

If you’re looking for something completely different, whether it’s a new way to get fit outdoors, an adrenalin rush, an escape from everyday life, or simply a sociable fun activity you can enjoy with your friends and family, pop down to your nearest Push the Boat Out event and give it a go. Find your nearest Push the Boat Out event at www.rya.org.uk/ptbo