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Blithfield Sailing Club awarded RYA OnBoard status

by Karenza Morton, RYA 1 Nov 2010 10:26 GMT
Blithfield Sailing Club is awarded prestigious RYA OnBoard status © Richard Clarke School

Blithfield Sailing Club is leading the way in introducing young people to sailing and windsurfing in Staffordshire after being awarded prestigious RYA OnBoard status by the sport’s national governing body.

OnBoard is the RYA’s nationwide grassroots scheme to provide youngsters from local schools, community and youth groups with opportunities to sail regularly at low cost and continue participating at specially-designated OnBoard clubs in their area.

Blithfield SC, near Rugeley, has been working with West Midlands-based RYA officials on gaining OnBoard status over the past three years as Blithfield bids to engage youngsters in the sport and the club from an early age while also giving their families the chance to take an active role in club activities.

And having received the RYA OnBoard seal of approval, Blithfield recently hosted its first taster sessions for more than 20 Year 4 pupils from Richard Clarke First School in Abbotts Bromley, with many of their parents also trying their hands on the water.

Blithfield SC Commodore Andy Felthouse says becoming an RYA OnBoard centre of excellence is already having a positive impact at the club.

“RYA OnBoard is a recognised standard of quality so children, and their parents, know they will be receiving the best tuition in a safe, friendly club environment. Because it is a nationwide scheme, they also know that should they move area or join a different club they can slot straight back into their OnBoard activities.

“To help with the influx of new OnBoard members we have invested in several thousand pounds of sailing boats, which will benefit the whole club, and we are looking forward to getting as many local kids out on the water as possible through OnBoard from early spring next year.”

Brett Cokayne, RYA OnBoard Development Officer for Staffordshire and North Warwickshire, added: “It was great seeing the Richard Clarke children outside on the water, enjoying the fresh air and local facilities.

“Once they experience that enjoyment we want to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for them to keep participating whilst having loads of fun and making new friends. I’m delighted that Blithfield Sailing Club has joined the RYA OnBoard ranks.”

Blithfield SC will continue running some off-the-water and social OnBoard activity over the winter before the scheme gets into full swing next spring.

On Spring Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May, the club plans to host a four-day training camp for new and regular OnBoard sailors, coinciding with their annual club open day, so visitors can see what Blithfield’s OnBoard programme can offer.

Over 10 years OnBoard aims to introduce a minimum of 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting more than 10 per cent into regular participants.

For more information on OnBoard in Staffordshire and North Warwickshire contact www.ruob.co.uk

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