The RYA tell us of their work in promoting and protecting windsurfers’ rights.
Words & Photos RYA
Your right to windsurf wherever you want isn’t a given. All sorts of reasons can suddenly emerge which might seek to restrict the access you’ve always taken for granted to your favourite spot. New local byelaws, wildlife protection areas, fisheries development, conflicts of water usage, you name it and somewhere in the UK that debate has probably previously arisen or could be about to break out. And when it does, who’s championing your case? If you’re an RYA member, you are. Eh?! Explain that? Ok, here goes…
Basically being an RYA member means you’re making it possible for the RYA to lobby and campaign on the critical issues affecting you on your behalf, including access and freedom to go afloat. Over the past decade, there are multiple cases of where the RYA has successfully worked to promote and protect windsurfers’ rights, meaning windsurfing has been able to continue in areas it might otherwise have had to stop. St Mawes Harbour, Cornwall and the Exe Estuary, Devon are two examples of where RYA intervention has ensured windsurfing could continue, and if you enjoy the action at Chesil Beach, Hayling Island and Cardiff Bay, these are other areas where pro-windsurfing lobbying efforts ensured your access was protected.
Meanwhile, Whitstable Beach, Kent is another area where the RYA is supporting the local sailing club in challenging the lawfulness of the deposit of oyster trestles, which, when submerged, present a significant hazard to windsurfers. Windsurfer and RYA Membership Development Manager, Conor Lee-Swift, explains: “People are still surprised that by being an RYA member they are directly protecting the sport they love. The RYA’s purpose is to promote and protect safe, successful and rewarding British boating, and this is as much windsurfing as all other activities.
You never know where the next dispute will arise, but the RYA’s legal experts work through and advise on often extremely complex cases to try to resolve them in windsurfing’s best interests. It’s our members that make this possible.” Last year more than £3 million from RYA membership was re-invested into getting people on the water more often and safely, with around a third of that directed towards lobbying and campaigning, including trying to get windsurfing and sailing reinstated on the GCSE, AS and A-level PE activity lists.
In addition, membership also supports The Green Blue – the environmental awareness initiative established by the RYA and British Marine – in promoting sustainability and the environmental protection of coastal and inland waters, issues windsurfers passionately care about and campaign for.
But it’s not all about ‘giving back’. RYA windsurfing members get a whole heap of benefits, most notably free third party windsurfing and stand up paddleboard insurance, provided by Bishop Skinner Marine.
This worldwide benefit now includes foiling kit and covers you for up to £3m third party liability arising from your ownership of the board, as well as when you’re out racing or undertaking tuition or coaching as an RYA qualified coach/instructor. As Conor continues, “Even the most experienced windsurfers have lived through that stomach churning moment when you’re getting your kit on or off the car or are rigging up in windy conditions and something gets caught by a gust and flies off. You watch and pray it doesn’t hit anything, whether a car, another person or someone else’s gear. But if it does, and you have no insurance, you could be staring at a potential costly loss for everything and/or everyone that gets damaged. The majority of RYA members, who have windsurfing nominated as one of their boating interests, tell us the insurance is one of their biggest draws, and, of course as a member you can contact the RYA legal team for free advice and support too.”
The rest of RYA membership goes towards sport and club development at 1,500 affiliated clubs and classes and 2,400 RYA Recognised Training Centres worldwide and helping the country’s most talented young racers fulfill their potential. This includes nurturing windsurfing’s next generation through the grassroots OnBoard and Team15 programmes and evolving the RYA National Windsurfing Scheme. As Conor concludes, “Being an RYA member is not a transactional relationship, it’s about being part of a community that makes a real difference in giving all windsurfers the chance to get the most out of their sport across the country.”
Being an RYA member costs as little as 87p a week for adults, while there are discounted options FOR UNDER 18s, UNDER 25s and families too. Find out more at www.rya.org.uk/membership