by Emma Slater
2010 National Watersports survey - Despite a marked decline in casual participation (less than five times per year) in sailing, the results show the level of enthusiast participation (more than 13 times a year) has increased.
The survey reported that some 2.9 million UK adults participate in the boating activities surveyed, from sailing and powerboating to personal watercraft and windsurfing. Generally speaking across all these activities occasional and enthusiast participation has remained relatively stable, with sailing enthusiast figures increasing by 6.8 per cent compared to 2009. However, overall, all activities have shown a decline in participation, with small sail boat activities and yachting cruising having been the hardest hit.
'We can only really speculate as to the reasons behind this decline in casual participation', commented Paul Bayliss, RYA Marketing Operations Manager. 'It may well be explained by the recession, reduction in experience days, corporate boating and change in holiday patterns.
'It is encouraging however to see figures for enthusiasts increasing in this latest report but it would be fair to say that committed participants are more likely to stay in the sport whilst casual participation rises and falls according to circumstances.
'The survey can’t definitively explain behavioural patterns but it can highlight them so that we can react to what is happening in our market place', Paul continued.
The survey looks at a variety of factors including participation by gender, age and ethnicity, frequency, demographics and life stage.
Other results for the 2010 survey include:
• 1.1 million boats/craft are owned by UK households with the most common being a motor/power boat
• Households in the South West have the highest proportion of boat owners followed by the South East and Northern Ireland
• Canal boating is the only activity with similar levels of male and female participation
• There is an increase in the proportion of activity taking place in the UK. This is because of a decline in the number of overseas holidays by UK residents in 2010 compared to 2009.
Now in its ninth year The National Watersport Survey, commissioned by the RYA, BMF (British Marine Federation), RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), MCA (Maritime & Coastgaurd Agency) and the new partner, the BCU - the British Canoe Union, seeks to benchmark participation rates and monitor trends.
'This survey allows us to measure real trends in the marine and watersports sector. The RYA heads up this cross industry group to measure activity rates for the benefit of the industry, user groups and individual interest', concluded Paul.
You can view the whole survey on the RYA website