Can you remember the first time you stepped onto a board? As a windsurfer seeing your children taking their very own first steps into the sport can be magical – those moments that plant the seeds we hope will blossom into a future love for windsurfing. With equipment, instruction and clothing developing all the time for younger children, knowing where to start can be a bit of a minefield. Fortunately the RYA have it covered, here are some fantastic opportunities which will make it easy for you to get your little people out on the water and loving it.
Words & Photo RYA
A great way to get youngsters started is through the RYA OnBoard scheme, which introduces 8-18 year olds to windsurfing and sailing at over 245 accredited venues across the country. In the past decade, OB smashed its target of introducing half a million kids to sailing and windsurfing and continues to provide low cost sailing and windsurfing opportunities for youngsters of all ages and backgrounds. RYA OnBoard Operations Officer Cat Ferguson explains: “OnBoard is all about connecting youngsters with their local windsurfing and sailing venues and providing them with the best possible first start. As well as making friends and having heaps of fun they’ll learn to windsurf at affordable sessions with expert instructors. The basics can be learnt easily in a couple of weeks or over a number of sessions, it doesn’t take long for youngsters to be able to windsurf around a triangular course on their own! The bonus is that the OnBoard program also compliments school curriculums in many areas and is designed to provide lifelong learning skills including teamwork, problem solving and taking responsibility. There are so many things for children to consider when getting started in windsurfing including being confident in and on the water, reading and understanding the wind and taking control of their own equipment. These are all fantastic life skills that are not necessarily picked up in other sports or in the classroom”. OnBoard sessions are affordable, no previous experience is needed and everything is provided by the instructor. You can find more information and your nearest venue at www.rya.org.uk/onboard
Racing with Team15
Team15 is a national network of windsurfing clubs where young people aged 16 and under can get together every week to learn new windsurfing skills and participate in the inter-club events with teams going head to head with other regional teams. World class sailors such as the British Sailing Team’s Izzy Hamilton and Kieran Martin are just a few of the ex-T15 sailors who have graduated through T15 and gone on to greater things.
RYA High Performance Manager for the North and Midlands Chris Blackburn said: “The T15 Interclub events are really friendly and the competition is pitched to cater for all levels of ability. Youngsters will sail and race with others who have the same size sail as them to keep things fair and there are also prizes to be won”. Whatever your skill level, Team15 sessions are open to all abilities from beginners to those who already sail and with sessions kept at a low cost they won’t break the bank! Find your nearest Team15 club at www.rya.org.uk/programmes/rya-team15/Pages/hub.aspx
Getting a taste for it
If you don’t fancy signing up for regular sessions just yet, a taster session could be just what you’re looking for. From July to September you and your youngsters can have a go at windsurfing at one of the many venues that will be opening their doors and running taster sessions across the UK. The whole family is welcome and everything you need will be provided by the instructor. Supported by the RYA, these events will provide the chance to discover what it’s like to get out on the water and sample life at a local club or training centre. With many under £10 or free they make the perfect family day out. Find your nearest taster session at www.rya.org.uk/startboating
Take a course
Taking a course at an RYA Training Centre is one of the quickest and easiest ways for youngsters to learn. Most training centres will offer lessons for youngsters as young as eight and from level 1 to level 4 the RYA Youth Scheme will see them floating across the water in no time.
Find courses near you
So what are you waiting for? Find more information about how you and your children can start your windsurf adventure at www.rya.org.uk/startboating