Please select your home edition
Edition
MS Amlin 2017 Name Change 728x90

Getting your kids into sailing? Make it fun!

by Mark Jardine on 20 Mar 20 March 2017
Family & Commodore's Weekend at Ripon © Ian Smith

By far the best way of increasing sailing participation is to get kids hooked on the sport. While we all know that sailing can be such an enjoyable pastime, persuading our own children of this can sometimes be a tricky task.

There are so many competing activities and pastimes on young people's radar nowadays that going sailing, and how that is done, can seem to them like a long-winded and difficult exercise. The last thing you want to hear is that they "can't be bothered".

The Open Meeting circuit for kids in racing is huge. Optimist, Cadet, Topper, 29er, Mirror, RS Feva, RS Tera and 420 fleets roam between the big UK sailing clubs for weekend events together with campervans, support RIBs and anxious parents wanting their children to be the next Ben Ainslie, Hannah Mills, Ian Walker, Alex Thomson or Dee Caffari. The reality is, and the stats are there to show it, that very few will make the leap into the British Sailing Team and even fewer still will go on to the Olympics, let alone win a medal. Competition at the top is tough and the attrition rate is high. The journey results in many broken dreams and a number of sailors quitting the sport entirely.

Family sailing has the advantage that it is also great fun for parents! If you own a yacht already you can take the kids out on it - on a good day - and just anchor up in a bay, maybe taking a kayak with you to explore the beach and have a barbecue. There are also dinghies such as Wayfarers, Wanderers, Scows, 2000s and many more which take passengers well, give kids their first taste of helming under supervision and in safety, and provide the fun 'transport' to a great day messing around on a secluded beach. With the pressures of everyday life so high, getting away for a few hours on a boat and playing on a beach can be extremely cathartic for adults as well.

Some sailing clubs are superb at making sailing events enjoyable for kids. Results are often secondary to the activities, with racing confined to the morning and rafting, dressing up as pirates and passage sails down creeks, the highlights of a 'Cadet Week'. This is what sailing should be for kids; something that has them enthusing about their day when they get home rather than moaning that they, "only finished 14th". These Cadet Weeks also lead on nicely from the RYA's hugely successful 'Push the Boat Out' days which get so many people who are new to sailing out on the water. It's no surprise to see sailing clubs which arrange fun activities are thriving while some of those with a pure racing philosophy are watching their membership dwindle.

Salterns Sailing Club near Lymington is purely for kids. Situated on a waist-deep pond, kids can go out in Optimists, Scows and British Moths with parents on hand in waders should they get into difficulty. The club is for children and run by children, with a junior committee of 12 years olds making the decisions and running the club. It's an RYA Training Centre and runs two 'Moppy Camps' each year. The key message is always to help children enjoy sailing; that says it all really. Salterns is also successful in bringing top sailors into the sport, Land Rover BAR's Matt Cornwell being one of them: a top bowman and often regarded as one of the 'nicest people in sailing'. A coincidence?

Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against sailors racing at a high level in the big classes and Britain's place at or near the top of worldwide sailing simply wouldn't be possible without it, but I feel the 'grounding' for a sailor has to be in the fun that it is. Make their first sailing a trip out to a beach for a barbecue on a beautiful day. Don't throw them in at the deep end, crewing in a frostbite series race in January. Once they've started to love sailing at an early age they'll always come back to the fun side of sailing, no matter how competitive their sailing becomes in the meantime.

What are your thoughts on making sailing fun? Have you got a favourite spot you like to sail to with your kids? Tell us using the facebook comments below or email me directly at .

MS Amlin – Boat Insurance Specialists

MS Amlin, formerly Haven Knox-Johnston, have grown into one of the UK's leading providers in boat insurance. All policies are backed by the financial strength and security of MS Amlin Syndicate 2001, one of the largest Syndicates in Lloyd's.

We can cover the full spectrum of marine craft, from a much loved family dinghy, day boats, racing yachts, RIBS, all manner of cruising and motor boats, to brand new multi-million pound super yachts in the UK, the Mediterranean and further afield. With the support of one of the world's largest insurance groups, we deliver service based on years of experience on the water, so we do genuinely understand our clients' needs.

MS Amlin Underwriting Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

www.boatinsure.co.uk

Related Articles

International Moth Worlds top contenders guide
Standby for the most competitive Moth Worlds ever The largest and most competitive Moth World Championship begins this week at one of the most glamorous racing locations in world sailing, Lake Garda. A record 240 Moths are entered from 25 countries from all over the globe. Posted on 24 Jul
Paul Goodison interview at Lake Garda
The Moth Worlds versus the America's Cup Jonny Fullerton interviews Paul Goodison, current Moth World Champion, ahead of the 2017 Worlds: talking about breakages, Moth versus America's Cup sailing, and what he has been missing these past two years. Posted on 24 Jul
WASZP International Games preview
Standby for take off at Campione, Lake Garda The most popular one design foiler in the world is hosting its inaugural International Championship only 1 year since production commenced on this product. The WASZP is taking grass roots sailing to new levels around the world. Posted on 23 Jul
Moth Worlds at Lake Garda preview part 2
So who's going to win then? We left this conversation yesterday at the critical point. It's the usual conversation that the armchair pundits like to start talking about in the run up to a big sailing event. Posted on 22 Jul
Ian Walker Interview
Musto ambassador, Volvo Ocean Race winner, Olympic medallist We speak to Musto ambassador Ian Walker about his Volvo Ocean Race win, why food and clothing are so important offshore, his views on the America's Cup, his new desk job, sailing for fun, and 20 years of the John Merricks Sailing Trust. Posted on 21 Jul
Moth Worlds at Lake Garda preview part 1
It's a wonderful time; it's a horrible time! It's a wonderful time; it's a horrible time. We're less than a week away from the start of the 2017 Moth Worlds and it really is a time of mixed feelings for Mothies. It's getting the heart pumping just putting these thoughts down. Posted on 21 Jul
Sailing history for sale
We are about to lose a major part of UK dinghy heritage The UK dinghy scene is unique in its richness and diversity. Sadly, it looks as though we may be about to lose a major part of this important heritage. Posted on 12 Jul
Knots are great, but beware of limitations
Paul Dyer tests the effects of knots and splices on rope strength Paul Dyer, technical manager at Marlow Ropes, tests the effects of knots and splices on rope strength. Posted on 11 Jul
Interview with David Chandler
VX One Champion, 37 years after PoW Cup win David Chandler recently won the VX One National Championship at Sunderland YC, 37 years after winning the Prince of Wales Cup, the one-race nationals for the International 14 class. We spoke to him about how he's 're-living his youth' in the VX One. Posted on 6 Jul
SuperFoilers are go!
Welcome to the flying boat era on Sydney Harbour SuperFoilers represent many things. Whilst those components are disparate and virtually from different planets in the great scheme of things, they come together in the one form as harmoniously as a Rolls Royce. Posted on 2 Jul