Windsurfing’s appeal is all down to the freedom isn’t it?
You can pick up your board and go where you like, when you like, with whomever you like. You don’t have to answer to anyone or be a member of anything.
So why would becoming an RYA member have ever crossed your mind? Chances are it won’t! The RYA explain why it should…
But what if you knew as an RYA member all windsurfers are entitled to free Third Party insurance, from Bishop Skinner Marine, covering windsurfing in UK and Europe with 30 days of worldwide cover?
Or that you can get up to 50% off with various clothing and accessories suppliers, including Bolle, 24-7 Boardsports, Overboard and Cotswold Outdoors, and 10% off Neilson holidays including Ski and Snowboard holidays, for example?
In fact check out the membership benefits page on the RYA website and even the most hardened windsurfing cynic could probably find the odd benefit amongst the huge variety on offer.
As Conor Swift, RYA Membership Development Manager, explains: “One of our main aims is to be able to say to anyone, whatever their interest area, ‘This is exactly how this benefit will make a difference to you personally’.
“We’re looking at membership from each member’s point of view more than ever. We have to keep our membership offering fresh and genuinely useful so members feel valued, and can actually see what they’re getting out of it, and that means windsurfers as much as any other boating group the RYA represents.
Various discounts on things that will make a difference to you windsurfing for less further afield, including on Virgin flights, airport parking, accommodation and Volvo cars, continue to prove a big appeal, as do reductions on more technical items such as Garmin, Action Cameras, Theyr Weather Software and outboard motors.
But there are heaps of deals you can take advantage of outside of your windsurfing too, like discounts on Pinarello Bikes, exclusive offers through the Ski Club of Great Britain and European weekend breaks whether you’re after a romantic get-away in London, Rome or Paris, a historic tour of Belgium, or a party in Berlin or Amsterdam.
And here’s a fact you won’t expect – personal membership starts from just 12p a day! Seriously.
So why do we give you all this?
It may not seem relevant to you as you rock up on your favourite windswept beach, waves pounding and just begging to be ridden.
But imagine, for example, you could no longer windsurf at that beach because it had become part of a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
Or on a windsurfing course, here or overseas, you had an accident because the kit you were using and the instructor teaching you hadn’t been ratified as safe.
Or imagine if you were an exceptionally talented racer but had no way of fulfilling your Olympic ambition, as there was no support from the national governing body.
The RYA is renowned for setting World leading standards in protecting and promoting all areas of boaters’ interests, including windsurfing, through lobbying and advising, training and technical development, grassroots’ growth and elite performance pathways for athletes, coaches and race officials.
It works at national, European and international level, and in partnership with multiple authorities and agencies at home and abroad, to ensure the interests of all boating groups are represented and fought for.
Its pragmatic, persistent, and well-reasoned approach is fundamental in decision makers bringing legislation and regulation, or, in appropriate cases no legislation, that don’t adversely affect your rights and safety on the water.
Quite simply, without its members – people like you – the RYA couldn’t do a smidgeon of this, often unseen, work.
Yet despite the massive improvements in making the more obvious ‘monetary’ RYA membership benefits increasingly attractive to each individual interest group over the past two years, the real drivers to people joining the RYA remain rooted in maintaining high standards in the sport.
The RYA Membership Survey 2014 results, published this autumn, threw up some interesting results.
A quarter of members (25%) said the single most valuable benefit of RYA membership was access to advice, information and knowledge from RYA experts.
You can understand why.
The unlimited access to specialist and technical advice, news and bespoke support from RYA experts is so specialist that when you compare its relative value to what you would have to pay for similar guidance from an external expert, it verges on the priceless. This advice is available both through directly contacting the RYA and members-only sections of the RYA website.
Meanwhile 41% stated the main reason they joined was due to the RYA’s globally-recognised training, certification, personal and professional qualifications, followed by almost a quarter (24%) stating it was to add their voice to the RYA’s current 102,000 members in ensuring legislators, regulators and other authorities understand, and take account of, recreational boating activity in decision-making.
Encouragingly, eight out of 10 people stated that they would recommend RYA membership to friends and family.
So what would suit me?
There are five types of ‘standard’ membership – Family, Personal, Gold, Youth and Junior – plus a special Life membership too.
There is also an Instructor Membership, which seeks to recognise and reward the valuable work done by RYA Instructors by offering an enhanced package to support them in continuing to deliver the RYA’s World Class training programmes.
There are no extra costs associated with Instructor Membership, you just need to be a current RYA Member, whilst amongst the many benefits are free RYA Instructor certificates (usually £40), discounts on selected RYA courses and extra reductions from the various kit and clothing companies.
Conor added: “When asked if the RYA could do one big thing to help your boating the survey results were extremely varied and interesting, from just keep doing what you’re doing to controlling the weather!
“Other responses included providing somewhere for beginners to ask ‘stupid questions’, as well as more services available via mobile apps, keeping legislation to a minimum and more opportunities to meet RYA staff.
“Our membership enables the RYA to fulfill our remit simply by paying their membership fees each year. We can only make sure we work as hard for them by providing member benefits people actually want.”
Join the RYA today at www.rya.org.uk/joinrenew