The RYA join us on BOARDS for yet another monthly instalment. This time the team discuss the benefits to becoming an RYA member.
What is like a red rag to a bull for windsurfers? Lots and lots of wind! What does heavy breeze mean for kit shore side? That it’s very hard to keep under control!
Many experienced windsurfers will have lived through that stomach turning moment when getting your kit off or back on to the car, or rigging up, in windy conditions and something gets caught by a gust and flies off in another, aimless direction. You watch as you pray it doesn’t hit anything, whether a car, another person or someone else’s gear, before, most typically breathing a grateful sigh of relief at the near miss.
However sometimes it does hit something else, and sometimes that causes damage. Then what? If you have no insurance you could be staring at a very costly sail, and a potential two-way loss for what your board damages and you and your board too.
When investing in new kit or preparing to test new waters, for example, insurance seems to be the least important, and let’s face it, least exciting thing to remember. Yet, as the old cliché states, accidents do happen. Not often, but they do. And if it happens to you, you could be left kicking yourself as to why you didn’t get insured.
This is where being a member of the RYA can pay off for windsurfers. Joining the RYA isn’t something that comes instinctively to windsurfers in the same way it does to sailors for example, but the benefits are exactly the same.
And one of those benefits particularly appealing to windsurfers is the free worldwide Third Party insurance for the use of their windsurfing kit and, and from 2015, also includes insurance cover for their stand up paddle boards (SUP).
This insurance, provided by Bishop Skinner Marine the RYA’s recommended insurance broker, covers members for their legal liabilities arising from their ownership of the board, plus when you are out racing or undertaking tuition or coaching as an RYA qualified coach/instructor. It automatically covers you for up to £3m third party liability. There is optional cover available for your kit including multiple boards, which is a real benefit as most policies will only provide cover for a single board. The policy can also include accidental damage cover including fire and theft, cover for other people to use your board if you provide permission.
Currently more than 11,200 RYA members have windsurfing nominated as one of their boating interests. For the majority the insurance is one of their biggest pulls.
But if it is simple insurance cover you need, can’t you just buy a policy as opposed to becoming an RYA member? Of course you can, but the other membership benefits you get for less than £3.60 a month for personal members, and £5.67 a month for a family of two adults and two U18s, for example, make it a very attractive option.
As Conor Swift, RYA Membership Development Manager, explains: “After 2008 windsurfing membership of the RYA went into decline, which coincided with the explosion of interest in SUPs and kitesurfing. However over the last 12-14 months the decline has leveled out.
“As a windsurfer myself, when I speak to new faces on the water where I live in Christchurch, many are going onto eBay to purchase good second-hand windsurfing equipment at a low cost to see if they enjoy the sport or not. Many have said they like the look of kitesurfing but that even secondhand kit can run into four figures.
“Looking at the new monthly RYA joiners who expressed windsurfing as their primary interest we are seeing many come from youths, both male and female, and men over 50 years particularly.
“Even windsurfing members probably don’t realise the extent to which their subscriptions are re-invested back into the sport through our grassroots and have a go programmes, such as Team15, OnBoard and Push The Boat Out, and racing.”
With the world becoming an increasingly litigious place, all RYA members are also entitled to free boating-related legal advice and bespoke support from the RYA’s specialist legal team, while subscriptions contribute to enabling the RYA to continue lobbying on matters impacting on all boaters, including windsurfers, too.
Most recently, the RYA legal team challenged beach byelaws proposed by a local authority, which could have had significant access implications for windsurfers. If you were to face any access issues in the places you wanted to sail, as an RYA member you are well entitled to contact the legal team for advice and support.
In addition to these more practical benefits, there is also a huge array of rewards and discounts available through the RYA’s member partners, which can be valuable to windsurfers, including on travel, kit, clothing and other useful gadgets.
For example, with watersports growing at a phenomenal rate in Ireland there are discounts on Stena Line routes to and from the Emerald Isle, while if windsurfing a bit further afield appeals members benefit from discounted airfares through Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air as well as airport parking perks – Virgin offers extra sports baggage weight free, with boards free to take on without pre-booking, just turn up. There is also the opportunity to take advantage of discounted Neilson Holidays too.
For kit there are discounts for the Wetsuit Centre and 24-7 Boardsports plus heaps more clothing specialists, on Overboard kit protection products, Bollé sunglasses and Kestrel Pocket Weather Meters and the Theyr.com precision weather forecasting App, which could be vital to stop sudden weather changes catching you unawares. For racers, sail number issues are also cheaper for RYA members.
Conor concludes: “We have noticed our windsurfing membership base includes a lot of family memberships, and we believe this is because many families use a windsurfing board doubled up as an SUP, diving platform, kayak etc., that they can all use to enjoy getting on the water.”
“Windsurfing within the RYA is treated with the same respect and importance as any other boating area we cover as the national governing body and the representative voice of the recreational boater.”
*There are different membership types and categories to suit all windsurfers, from Junior (under 11), to Youth (under 18) and Under 25 (18-24 years) to Personal (over 25s) and Family, plus exclusive Gold Membership with enhanced and extended benefits. As well as partner offers, membership gives you access to a wide range of RYA resources including information and advice on member-only pages of the RYA website and interest-specific newsletters. For full details visit www.rya.org.uk