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Midland Sailing Club breaking down barriers to get local kids OnBoard

by Karenza Morton 23 Jul 2018 13:31 BST
Midland SC juniors get OnBoard © OnBoard

Midland SC on Edgbaston Reservoir is on course to inspire the next generation of young sailors after gaining the national RYA OnBoard seal of approval.

RYA OnBoard is the national grassroots scheme making it easier and cheaper to get more young people aged 8-18 on the water by providing low cost sessions through schools, youth groups and families. Kids can get afloat for as little as a fiver and they use the club's boats so don't need their own.

Having received their official OnBoard recognition, Midland have been running taster sessions for a number of local schools while the club is also working with their local Sea Cadet unit so the youngsters can have their sailing skills recognised with RYA Training certificates.

Last year, a landmark project between sailing's national governing body, the RYA and Professor Bill Lucas, Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester, identified how sailing nurtures six key character strengths in young people - confidence, teamwork, communication, determination, independence and creativity.

Midland SC's Oliver Mason said: "What sailing can do for young people goes beyond the notion of 'sport'; it's everything else that comes from being on the water in a boat and the physical and mental benefits of having fun in the fresh air outdoors.

"We've been gradually building up our junior group so were looking to get OnBoard status, partly to demonstrate to parents that their children are part of a recognised and reputable national programme and also to show schools and teachers we are operating to RYA standards, so they can trust us to deliver safe and fun sessions that can tie in with the curriculum and which are also proven to develop key life skills in young people.

"The taster sessions were well-received and when we've approached schools we've been pleased there has been a generally positive response to getting their kids on the water. We're already in discussions with a local girls school about their students coming to do an RYA learn to sail course because we especially want to encourage young girls as gender, age and background genuinely do not matter in OnBoard."

The first steps to get OnBoard at Midland SC are taster sessions. Youngsters can then get involved in the club's Saturday morning junior club where they can progress through the RYA Youth stage certificates to develop their skills.

They may have only just got OnBoard but Midland already have one eye on the future, planning a regular junior race series, with one race a month and the other weeks filled with race coaching and general skills training, while the club's youngsters can also get involved in the iconic Southport 12/24 Hour endurance races, hosted by the West Lancashire Yacht Club each September, that Midland members enter en masse every year.

Further on the horizon the club is aiming to gain British Youth Sailing Recognised Club status, which celebrates excellence in developing future sailing stars, and they have already started to train some of their volunteer dinghy instructors to become race coaches.

Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, said: "We are delighted to welcome Midland SC to OnBoard. OnBoard is about fun and enjoyment, while our work with Professor Lucas highlighted the broader learning benefits sailing teaches, which youngsters can take with them off the water and into many other aspects of their lives. It is fantastic more youngsters in Birmingham now have these opportunities on their doorsteps."

Midland SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre, meaning it conforms to the highest standards of safety and quality. Since 2005, OnBoard has helped over three quarters of a million young people try sailing and windsurfing and learn an activity that often stays with them for life. Are you a local school or youth group interested in getting your young people OnBoard? Visit for more information.

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