The RYA is always looking at ways to get as many people as possible to enjoy the pleasures of windsurfing; but you may be surprised to hear that one of the best ways to do this is by joining your local windsurfing or sailing club.
We windsurfers can come across as a bit of a solitary bunch, so perhaps a club doesn’t immediately seem like our natural habitat. Hooked in, feet in the straps and skimming across the water, you are completely at one with the waves and the water. Having people around can be little more than an irritation.
Yet for all that, there is also a very social aspect to windsurfing. Rigging up prior to going out and chatting about the conditions and comparing kit is an essential part of the whole ritual. An extension of that is planning your next session with your mates over a beer or two, checking tides and winds (and enjoying a drink), is all part of the pleasure.
So why join a club?
There are plenty of good reasons to join a club. Of course, one massive benefit is having somewhere decent to store your kit instead of shoved under the stairs. Clubhouses also have the massive benefit of showers and changing rooms. How many times have you dreamt of a hot shower as you struggle back into your clothes in the cramped confines of the car?
Aside from this, clubs can also provide you with a bit of structure for your windsurfing and that can often give you the push you need to get out on the water as opposed to simply thinking it might be a good idea. It’s also great to be out on the water with other windsurfers in order to pick up tips; while a bit of extra training never did anyone any harm.
More coaches, better training
Behind the scenes, RYA Regional Development Officers (RDO’s) are busy helping clubs with planning and organisation, volunteers, new training courses and even organising windsurfing club workshops. All of which, will entice new members and encourage existing ones to windsurf more regularly.
The number of instructors in training centres has risen significantly in the last few years which is great news as it means more opportunities for you to sharpen up your skills.
The success of the RYA’s Team15 Programme, which provides young windsurfers with a fun structured way of windsurfing as part of a club, means that club windsurfing is already on the up and the more like-minded windsurfers there are around, the better the post session chat will be.
Inter-club challenges are a fantastic way to raise the standard of windsurfing for the youngsters and it provides a great way for the younger generation of windsurfers to pick up some tips whilst having a laugh with their mates on the water.
Team15 also underpins the RYA’s youth and junior pathway, which is the very first step on the Olympic pathway, giving young windsurfers a real focus and goal. It also means that if they have talent that needs to be developed, they are not going to be overlooked.
How to get hold of a club
Ok, so you’ve decided that being a member of a club is a good idea and one that should help you go windsurfing more regularly, the next step is finding one near you. The RYA has a directory of all RYA affiliated clubs within the UK and abroad. You’ll be able to find your nearest one by going to the RYA’s Where’s my nearest
You can also find your nearest club on Project Windsurf-UK, which aims to promote windsurfing clubs and groups in the UK, and link individual windsurfers with these local groups.
By offering an added social aspect to windsurfing, these groups hope to encourage more people to go windsurfing together, more often; visit www.projectwindsurfuk.org.uk and discover where your local windsurfing group’s located, or sign up your own group and invite others to join you.
Bringing it to life: Northampton Sailing Club
We asked Neil Patrick, Windsurfing Club Officer at Northampton Sailing Club how it works at his club….
Windsurfers at NSC range from six to 75 and often ‘compete’ with each other for the speed record, come together for charity events and keep in contact with each other to arrange to meet and sail when the weather conditions are promising.
10-15 year old windsurfers enjoy weekly Team15 sessions which provide the opportunity for beginners to be introduced to the techniques required for social windsurfing and racing including practice starts, advice on kit preparation and advice on progression to squads.
Our team the Pitsford Pirates are part of the T15 Inter-Club Championship and we were delighted this year to see them finishing 1st place in the Midlands Zone and 6th overall in the national final, the Team15 Champions Cup.
Experienced young windsurfers at the club are also available as volunteer coaches, and they offer an insight into the RYA racing programme, encouraging others to enter the racing events. This is particularly important as it creates an enthusiasm in the club and the new youngsters can learn first-hand from their peers. It creates a very special social bond providing the right atmosphere for the new members to gain confidence in their abilities.
Planning is already under way at NSC to offer freestyle opportunities and training to young people and adults looking for tuition or an introduction to freestyle events. All our windsurfing members are encouraged to join in with all social activities hosted by the club. Many of our young people attend both windsurfing and sailing tuition groups. There are also social activities for Windsurfers only such as the Windsurf for Cancer day or the ‘offsite’ trips to other waters.
The club arranges ‘open days’ throughout the year, offering new and prospective members the opportunity to try windsurfing with a coach on hand to give tips. Through the Northampton Watersports Centre, it is possible to then book courses to continue to learn to windsurf.
The adults and young people involved in both sailing and windsurfing create cross sport social groups reducing the ‘them and us’ situation! In the present economic climate it is a cost effective way for families to participate in a sporting activity and includes the advantage of a thriving social club. We have identified that many young people who participate in Team15 then move onto other sailing disciplines both as sailors and windsurfers, providing the club membership of the future.”
If you want to help to develop your windsurfing club, contact your local RDO. Find out who your local RDO is by contacting the RYA on 02380 604 251 or by emailing [email protected]