The RYA as a governing body, do a lot more for the sport than many of us realise. Here on Boards, they explain exactly what they do and how they support every level of windsurfer.
Mention the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to many windsurfers and they will generally acknowledge us as the guys who hand out certificates and coordinate training courses. You perhaps remember the RYA from your first embarrassing attempts to balance on a board without falling over and spectacularly face planting in the water, while an instructor looked on and tried not to smirk. RYA Windsurf Level One anyone?
Anyway, chances are that you have long since left those days behind and are probably quite keen to forget all about those tentative first steps. This means that, unless you’re a windsurfing instructor, your dealings with the RYA may well be limited. After all, windsurfing is all about being free spirited and, at first glance it’s difficult to see where the RYA figures in all that.
Despite this, there are actually around 8,500 windsurfers who are RYA members, and they are taking advantage of a number of benefits which the RYA can offer them.
So why join the RYA?
Well, the most obvious and tangible benefit for windsurfers is that, if you join the RYA, you get free third party insurance up to a value of £2,000,000.
This is a pretty significant benefit, as it means that if you’re going mach ten on your board and plough into a shiny new yacht, you’re insured against any damage you do to the boat or anyone else in the process.
This is a pretty useful benefit, particularly as it often doesn’t even occur to us that we need this type of cover until it’s too late. By joining the RYA, and stating that windsurfing is one of your boating interests, you’ll automatically be signed up for cover without any hassle.
All very useful, and for many, reason enough to join the RYA, but while you are out there blasting in the smug knowledge that you can nail your board in to any yacht with impunity (joke), there are other, broader reasons for joining the organisation.
There are also a whole host of other great membership offers and discounts coming up all the time so it’s worth checking out what’s in store and you could save yourself some money (which is always a good thing!).
Developing the sport
One of the central tenets of the RYA’s existence is to encourage participation in the sport at its very grass roots. For windsurfers this comes in the form of Team15, a programme run by the RYA to get more young blood involved in windsurfing.
At present there are around 70 Team15 clubs, with kids taking part in friendly competition with the ultimate aim of winning the inter-club championship. As every windsurfer knows, gathering together all the kit you need as cheaply as possible is a challenge in itself, so Team15 clubs can provide beginners with free kit and the cost of sessions is kept low.
Now, you may think that this is all very laudable, but not much to do with you, but it is in all of our interests for windsurfing to continue to flourish. If nothing else, the fewer active participants in the sport, the more expensive the kit becomes. For the more sociable windsurfer, more people participating in the sport means more competition, higher standards and more people out on the water with you.
So that’s two good reasons to join up with the RYA, but for those free spirits out there who still think that the RYA is not really for them, there is another compelling reason and that is the one thing that windsurfers hold very close to their hearts; freedom, protecting your rights.
Protecting your rights
Now this sounds very worthy, but what does it actually mean? Well, on a basic level, it’s all about making sure that you can go out and enjoy your windsurfing without getting tangled up in the red tape.
This may seem a bit far-fetched, but the RYA keeps a very close eye on any legislation which might stop you from enjoying getting out on the water; for example the Government Marine and Coastal Access Act. This may seem far removed from the world of windsurfing, but bear with me as there were aspects of it which had the potential to compromise your freedom to hook in and start blasting.
The RYA went through this Bill with a fine toothcomb before it was passed and used its influence to ensure that the wording was such that the Bill could not be used in a way that might unduly compromise our on the water activities.
Sounds dull, but that’s the point; the RYA is there to ensure that you don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff.
On a more local level, when windsurfers in Gwithian, Cornwall were threatened with reduced access to one of the UK’s finest wave sailing beaches, the RYA ensured that it was on hand to provide advice and support to help ensure that windsurfers were afforded unrestricted access to the water.
So there you go; three very good reasons to support the RYA and the work we do and we haven’t even mentioned all that coaching and expertise that brought windsurfing into the public eye after our successes at the Beijing Olympics. Oh, and of course our training courses, which cater for all levels from; complete beginner to improving your skills, right through to instructor level.
For more information on what we do, go to www.rya.org.uk,
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