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