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Course Information

Who can take part?

Anyone aged 8-18 can get involved, whether they have sailed before or not.  You don’t have to be a member of a sailing club and you don’t need your own boat!  All sailing equipment will be provided for you at your club or centre.

Can I bring my friends?

Yes, as long as there is room on the programme - so spread the word! OnBoard is a great way of meeting new people and making new friends too, so if you come on your own, you won’t be on your own for long!

When does OnBoard start?

OnBoard usually runs from April to October, with clubs and centres meeting weekly, but this may vary from venue to venue.  Some clubs and centres may continue the programme throughout the winter months too.  Each weekly session will typically will last for 2-3 hours.


What will I learn?

OnBoard is a structured programme of activity based on stages 1-4 of the RYA Youth Scheme.  The instruction you receive will be based on this and will also reflect your level of sailing or windsurfing experience.

Sailing and windsurfing can also teach you a number of important life skills that you’ll find invaluable both on and off the water. These include working as part of a team, problem solving, leadership, communication and decision making.  Many participants also find that their confidence, independence and creativity also improve as a direct result of taking part.

What should I wear?

Usually when you’re sailing you’ll need to wear warm clothes, a pair of old trainers and a waterproof coat, as it’s nearly always cooler on the water than on the shore.  Whenever you’re on or near the water, it’s essential to wear a buoyancy aid.  The sailing club or centre will lend you one of these and a wetsuit too if you need one.

For learning to windsurf you’ll wear a wetsuit over your swimsuit or shorts, with your buoyancy aid on top.  A full summer suit (long legs) is better than a shortie (short legs) when you’re starting out, as this will keep you much warmer and protect your knees when climbing onto the board. We recommend you also wear wetsuit boots or old trainers to protect your feet.

If you are sailing or windsurfing in autumn and beyond, make sure you wear a winter wetsuit or drysuit, wetsuit boots, a hat and a waterproof top.  Gloves are also a good idea to keep you extra warm.

What happens the first time I sail?

Normally you’ll sail a small boat by yourself or with a friend with an instructor nearby.  Your instructor will show you exactly what to do and make sure you are comfortable and confident before you go out.  They make everything easy to understand and get you ready to have a go.

There are lots of different types and sizes of boat to sail.  Some are just for one person and others you can sail with your mates.  Whichever boat you are in, you will always go out as part of a group, never on your own, and always with an instructor close by.


How wet will I get?

If the wind is light or you’re in a more stable steady boat then you’ll probably only get a few splashes.  If it’s windy, if you’re on a windsurfer or in a boat that’s closer to the water, you’ll probably get quite wet.  This is when a wetsuit is a good choice – because it helps to keep you warm even when you’re soaking wet.

Can I take part if I can't swim?

Yes you can. Everyone who goes sailing or windsurfing has to wear a buoyancy aid – even if they’re a cross channel swimmer!  A buoyancy aid makes you float, keeping you safe if you fall in.  Yes, it’s helpful if you can swim, but most importantly you just need to be confident about being in the water.

Can parents get involved?

Whilst adults cannot take part in OnBoard themselves, lots of parents volunteer to help out and really enjoy this involvement, often bringing the whole family down to lend a hand. Parents who already sail also use this time to get out on the water themselves, while others have taken up sailing or windsurfing as a direct result of their children’s involvement with OnBoard.

Where is my nearest OnBoard club or centre?

To find your nearest OnBoard venue please use the search facility below.

Find an OnBoard club or centre near you!

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