Over the last five years well over a quarter of a million youngsters have been enjoying sailing and windsurfing thanks to a pioneering scheme from the RYA called OnBoard.
'When we launched the programme back in 2005 we set ourselves the target of introducing 500,000 youngsters to sailing over a 10 year period. Now we are half way through it’s fantastic to see how many youngsters are getting out on the water and that the programme is well on target', commented Vicky Lenz, RYA OnBoard manager, who has been involved with the project since the outset and has seen the scheme flourish over the past few years. Something for everyone
The grassroots sailing scheme introduces 8-18 year olds to sailing and windsurfing through schools, youth groups and training centres. Whether competing in a fun race at a summer festival or experiencing the thrill of taking a sailing boat or windsurf board out for the first time, 14,000 youngsters have enjoyed OnBoard so much they have continued to sail and windsurf regularly.
Vicky continued: 'Sailing has something for everyone and a key part of the OnBoard ethos is to give children of all ages and backgrounds the chance to experience the pleasure of the sport.' 200 OnBoard Clubs
2010 saw the 200th sailing club come ‘OnBoard’ as sailexmouth.com joined the growing number of clubs and centres to become RYA OnBoard accredited. All OnBoard Clubs have to hold RYA Training Centre recognition, which means they must ensure that their staff, facilities and equipment are up to the required RYA standards, giving youngsters the best possible sailing experience in the safest environment. More schools and teachers
With a strong focus on safety it is no wonder that OnBoard remains a firm favourite with schools across the UK. 1,500 schools and 1,600 teachers have taken part in the RYA OnBoard scheme helping sailing to become a popular choice on the PE curriculum.
Andy Hooper, RYA Southern and South East Regional Development Officer said: 'It is brilliant that so many schools and teachers are getting involved with OnBoard. In its own way, sailing can change lives and can really boosts children’s confidence.
'Sailing gets you outdoors, is fantastic exercise and can also be a very sociable sport. It also requires a certain level of skill and those skills are constantly developing as you sail so it’s immensely rewarding. We hope to see even more youngsters, schools and teachers giving OnBoard a go in years to come. 3,000 volunteers
Over the past five years 3,000 volunteers have been helping to keep the OnBoard scheme alive, giving up their time to help with sailing sessions and summer festivals. Vicky explained 'OnBoard wouldn’t be where it is today without the dedication and commitment of these people and we are very grateful of their help and support.' Get involved.
With the 2012 Olympic Games just around the corner any youngster looking to get into sailing could not have picked a more exciting time. The good news is it has never been easier for schools and youth groups to get involved with sailing and windsurfing.
To find out more, and contact your local OnBoard Development Officer, check out the RYA OnBoard website at www.ruob.co.uk