Project Description

Youngsters raise their sailing game in regatta’s OnBoard Fun Fleet

02 October 2018

Young OnBoarders had a great chance to take part in a regional end-of-season bonanza of junior sailing at the weekend (29 and 30 September ) when sixty kids all under the age of 13 came to Weymouth to take part in the OnBoard Fun Fleet activities at the British Youth Sailing (BYS) Regional Junior Championships.

The event took place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy and was open to all youngsters in the RYA’s southern and south west regions who had already attained RYA Stage 1 or above in sailing.

The junior sailors signed up from no less than 15 clubs in the regions, with a very even spread from clubs including Hamble River SC, Hill Head SC, Itchenor SC, Portchester SC, Royal Southern SC, Upper Thames SC, Royal Southern YC and Warsash SC.

While part of the BYS Championships programme was for racing events the OnBoard Fun Fleet was exclusively about getting kids who are relatively new to sailing to have fun with their friends through a full action day or two with games on the water. Saturday welcomed 55 participants while 35, including several who were there for a second day, came along on the Sunday.  The event was a great social get together for the kids to see what it was like to be part of a team.

The programme of activities was a great chance for the young sailors to learn the latest tips.  They even got to meet some of Britain’s top sailors, the British Sailing Team members, and to hear first-hand how they got involved in sailing and what it has done for them.

The weekend brought a mixture of conditions on the water with Saturday’s light breeze and amazing sunshine and Sunday’s more challenging colder and windier conditions.  During each day the Fleet was split into two groups dependent on ability. They played an assortment of ‘games with aims’ including paddle power and ‘sailing rugby’. At the end of each day the groups took part in some fun races.


Parents and volunteers from some of the visiting clubs all pitched in to help the day go smoothly, assisting the team from the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre (ASWC) in Weymouth who coordinated the activities.  James Parker-Mowbray, Senior Instructor at the ASWC said “Every sailor came off the water with a massive smile, having made new some new friends and learnt something new.”


Emma McCormick, parent of one young learner, said “The On Board weekend was fantastic for our six year old. He had such a great time and it was brilliant that he had something fun to do rather than hanging around waiting for his brothers to finish sailing in the racing event! Please pass on my thanks to all the instructors who made it such a positive and fun experience for the younger sailors.”


Hannah Cockle is the RYA’s OnBoard Operations Officer.  She reported “The kids absolutely loved it! Most of them came back the second day, even if they hadn’t originally signed up.”  She added “For many of the young sailors this was their first experience of travelling to an event and sailing at a different location.  They also got to try an RS Zest dinghy which they might not have sailed in before. All we were doing was having fun and playing games and I’m sure this will inspire them to carry on loving sailing.”


“Running the fun event alongside the BYS Championships gave the fun fleet a great chance to watch the more experienced sailors on the race course and to become inspired to progress to the next level.”

Hannah concluded “The weekend went really smoothly. We played so many different games which allowed the young sailors to improve their skills without even realising it.”


Duncan West, the RYA’s High Performance Manager for the south and south west regions, said “It was fantastic to see so many young sailors from so many of the sailing clubs within the region come together to have fun, and to be part of the BYS Regional Junior Championships.”


Run by the RYA, OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres.


Over a ten year period OnBoard has introduced more than 500,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting over 10% of them into regular participants.


For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit

Photo: Paul Wyeth