Windsurfing Magazine




OFFSHORE MEMBERSHIP promoted to Windsurfers at the Sailboat and Windsurf Show

Earl’s Court London
Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th March 2001

As Offshore – the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s membership for
those who enjoy the sea – moves into its fourth year, the recruitment drive
is now moving from the traditional leisure boater and divers to specifically
target windsurfers and kitesurfers. The latest recruitment initiative ‘Offshore
for Windsurfers’ is being promoted by the RNLI at the Sailboat and Windsurf

Although perhaps not seen as a traditional area where the RNLI’s rescue services
would be required, 133 lifeboat launched to assist windsurfers in trouble during
1999. Windsurfers like Michael Atkinson. Michael was on his way back to shore
when his mast foot became detached and he could not reconnect it after loosing
the retaining clip. Michael tried to swim his kit to shore, but found the drag
was too great. He was almost a mile offshore and in real trouble. Michael said:
‘After being in the water for almost one-and- a-half hours, I was in a very
distressed state. Fortunately, I had been spotted and the best sight in the
world was the Redcar inshore lifeboat coming to my rescue. I was literally …plucked
from the water and maybe death from hypothermia.’ Even windsurfers who do not
go too far offshore are not immune to the dangers of the sea.

Offshore was launched to the marine leisure industry at The London International
Boat Show in 1997. David Brann, marketing manager of the RNLI explained the
rationale behind the introduction of the new membership grade. ‘Our research
showed that the majority of our support (about 80%) came from people who have
no interest in the sea. In other words, sea users were only contributing about
20% of our income. As a charity we appreciate all donations that sailors, motorboaters,
divers and windsurfers contribute. They are consistent supporters of the RNLI,
buying stickers on flag days, putting change from a round of drinks into the
collection boxes on the club bar. However, the total amount of money that this
raised amounts to just 2% of the total cost of running the lifeboat service.’

The last four years have seen a steady increase in the amount of sea users
joining Offshore in response to membership requests such as adverts, flyers
and RNLI representatives actively recruiting at boat shows. Currently there
are 32,600 Offshore members.

David explained the importance of membership income. "Callouts to the
RNLI are on the increase and, to continue to maintain and improve the service
we offer, we must focus our attention on long-term, committed support as the
way forward."

Now that work of promoting Offshore to the general sea-user is well underway,
the recruitment team is looking to more specialised, but equally important sectors
who might need the services of a lifeboat. Windsurfers are among several groups
who call out the lifeboat – often because of problems with their kit.

All windsurfers who visit the Sailboat and Windsurf Show and who are not regular
supporters of the RNLI are being asked to consider the way that they support
the lifeboat service who go out in any weather to rescue those whose lives are
at risk.

Offshore Members play a very important part in supporting the RNLI:

¨ Offshore membership income now contributes over £1.5 million a
year to the RNLI.
¨ The money is used to maintain and replace the existing active fleet of
309 lifeboats, the relief fleet of 110 lifeboats, and to purchase new equipment
or shore facilities.
¨ Of every £1 spent, 80 pence goes directly to the cause of saving
lives at sea; 17p is used to continue the fundraising effort and only 3p is
used for administration.
¨ It costs around £274,000 a day to run the lifeboat service.
¨ Membership to Offshore costs £48 per year (£84 joint) – or
£4 per month (£7 joint).
¨ As at 31 December 2000 there are 32,600 Offshore members

Further information on Offshore can be obtained from:

Sharon New, Offshore Recruitment Officer or the RNLI public
relations department
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Tel: 01202-663000


Michelle Maxwell


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