First ever OB windsurfing conference


Last month we held our very first OnBoard windsurfing conference, which successfully took place virtually allowing as many people as possible to attend. The added bonus is that we recorded it, you can watch it here.

Hosted by Hannah Cockle, OnBoard Operations Officer, the conference included all the latest insights into windsurfing learnings along with updates on the Team 15 transition plans.

Professor Bill Lucus, from the University of Winchester and Centre for Real-World Learning, was the Key Note Speaker. Bill spoke in depth about character, broader learning and in particular how young people need help from the impacts of Covid-19.

Other presenters included Chris Blackburn from RYA Racing and Tim Cross from RYA Coaching and Development.

What’s happening in learning?
Bill explored the perspective of the global curriculum and how it is much wider than what we see on a school timetable. He explained how it contains foundational literacies which we are all familiar with such as literacy, numeracy and scientific literacy, plus character qualities such as curiosity and leadership through to competencies such as creativity and communication – which of course we are familiar with through our OnBoard characteristics.

Bill, who has been working with the RYA for over four years, showed an image to the participants which he believes shows what is happening in learning, and gave a fascinating account of how complicated learning is.

“Once upon a time we thought the basics of a good education was to see children as little vessels to be filled up with knowledge and then let loose on the world.

“It’s only part of the picture…it is a lot more complicated. As we learn things it’s not just our intellect at play, it’s our emotions, it’s the way we deal with other people as we learn and they are all part of what it is to learn.

“Learning is a lot messier than it was sometimes portrayed.”

Character attributes
Bill argues that the zest or ‘love' for learning can sometimes be missing, and that there is too much emphasis on the things that you need to recall for a test: “For kids this has gone walkabout, in too many schools it's missing. I believe very strongly and passionately that we want to encourage our young people to have a much more expansive education.

“It can simply be good fun, or be the joy of learning something new but it can also feed across into the formal curriculum of schools and the informal curriculum of schools – the development of character attributes” as Bill explains.

“Windsurfing is much more than just learning how to windsurf.”

Signature learning experience
During the conference, Bill also explained that through zest for learning there is a ‘signature learning experience’ which captures the things you get when out on the water and by working with others that you haven’t experienced before. Bill also emphasized how everyone involved with OnBoard helps contribute to the all-round expansive learning of a young person.

 Children on windsurfers following instructor, wearing onboard bibs

“One of the pleasures of learning to windsurf or sail it that you have to go from where you are to somewhere else. It’s very physical but it’s also reflective. It has fun. It has danger. It has excitement. It’s all of life in a little nutshell – and that to me is at the essence of a signature learning experience.”

Applying character attributes
Bill also explained how learning something different, and gaining the confidence of learning something that you find difficult, can be transferred to other contexts – for example schools: “It won't automatically move from the water to the classroom but with a little bit of help and some practice, then some of the mental routines that you go through can be.”

Bill was keen to emphasize the point that schools need to move away from abstraction and that we need to give practical examples of what this means. As an example, Bill talked through a mind map of what does it really mean to become good at 'determination' - on of the OnBoard character attributes.


On a practical level, as an Instructor, how can you apply this? Bill recommends a powerful and effective way of teaching is to not only locate it in the now (of the lesson) but also call on experiences of the youngsters, for example where have you used this creativity elsewhere? Then at the de-brief stage ask the question how could you put this into practice back at home or in school?
“It’s not complicated. It’s about embedding and making it normal. Use your expertise to weave this skilfully and effortlessly into coaching opportunities you have with young people.”

Impact Report
Bill also outlined how the 2019 RYA Impact Report is full of insights, and how we can use them in terms of promoting the wider benefits of learning to sail and windsurf.

For example, Bill remarks about how the report includes a parent remark about the growth in independence of their child. Bill also remarked that as a result of learning to windsurf or sail, there is a boost in creativity and developments in terms of people being shown that they could do new things if they gave it a go.

Windsurfing Sessions Cards
At the Conference, Hannah also explained the windsurfing session cards and how each card embeds different character attributes with lots of top tips, games, practical examples and diagrams to help instructors conduct successful sessions which link into the six attributes.


Team15 changes

Chris Blackburn from RYA Racing gave an overview of the changes to Team15 and the BYS (British Youth Sailing) Recognised Windsurfing Clubs that have taken place this year.

2021 has been a transition year for Team15, and going forward the Techno Class Association have now taken over the organisation of the Team15 interclub activity, aligning a lot more closely with the rest of RYA sailing activity.


Tim Cross from the RYA Coach Development team also gave an overview of what the Coach Development team offers and how this can be aligned with the OnBoard programme and the character attributes.

What to learn more?
The conference video is an excellent resource to learn about the OnBoard character attributes in an engaging format. You can watch it here.
Connect with Bill Lucas on Twitter using: @LucasLearn