Please select your home edition
Edition
Wessex Resins 2019 - Pro-Set - 728x90

Getting your kids into sailing? Make it fun!

by Mark Jardine 20 Mar 2017 12:38 GMT 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

The John Westell Centenary pt.5
FiveOs, fast multi-hulls and faster cars! This fifth and final programme in the series celebrating the centenary of John Westell kicks off with the 5o5, but now with John not so much as the designer but as the first volume builder of GRP FiveOs in the UK. Posted on 9 Apr
Explore. Dream. Discover.
The Easter weekend was a time to get on the water around the globe for many The Easter weekend was a time to get on the water around the globe for many. Lockdown restrictions in the UK have eased somewhat, allowing the return of grassroots sports, and the fine weather resulted in sailors heading to their local clubs. Posted on 6 Apr
AI AC36.5 v1.0
Natural evolution from displacement to foiling to virtual The America's Cup is taking the next logical step in its evolution, with the move from the physical to the virtual world. For continuity, the AC75 rule will be retained, with a few modifications, for what will be known as the 'AI AC36.5 v1.0'. Posted on 31 Mar
America's Cup: Two feet
A unit of measurement, avatar and a couple more often helpful in sailboat racing It can be a unit of measurement. Also the very extremities you use for balance when standing up. Then on March 5 this year, we saw that they can even belong to an avatar assisting you and your cause via reinforcement learning. Posted on 28 Mar
A game for billionaires
The Simpsons and the America's Cup have nothing and everything in common One of my favourite Simpsons episodes, from 1992, is where Homer creates a 'Wonder Bat' from a fallen tree branch, leading to a revival of the Springfield nuclear plant softball team's team fortunes. Posted on 23 Mar
America's Cup: Sliding Doors
If the 2021 America's Cup proves one thing, it's that design and innovation reigns supreme If the 2021 America's Cup proves one thing, it's that design and innovation reigns supreme. It would be easy to focus on large catamarans, even bigger monohulls, perhaps even seeing the Kiwis start foiling the AC72 cats, or their cyclors of Bermuda. Posted on 23 Mar
Whispering Jack
Unabashedly, this title does refer to the Aussie singing icon, John Farnham Unabashedly, this title does wholeheartedly refer to the Aussie singing icon, John Farnham. Not that our subject does in any way whatsoever warble in the same category. Posted on 22 Mar
Pushing the boundaries
When the AC75 boat concept was revealed we all looked on it with a sense of incredulity When the AC75 boat concept was revealed back in November 2017, we all looked on it with a sense of incredulity. Would this gecko-like monohull actually fly? Would the sailors be able to control it? Would they be able to match race? Posted on 16 Mar
The best race of the 36th America's Cup so far
This is what everyone in the sailing world was waiting for Day 6 of the 36th America's Cup saw the teams lining up on Course C. This is what everyone has wanted and is known as the sailors' course with gusts and shifts aplenty. Posted on 16 Mar
A tale of two jibs, two touchdowns and two points
The drama and pressure in Auckland went off the scale today The drama and pressure in Auckland went off the scale today with intrigue and twists at every turn. Posted on 15 Mar