Club resilience applauded at RYA conference

HRH The Princess Royal and Sir Ben Ainslie were amongst the key speakers who shared messages of support and applauded the resilience of sailing clubs across the UK at the RYA Affiliated Clubs Conference, last Saturday (21st November).

More than 1,000 delegates from 400 sailing clubs as far afield as Cornwall and Bermuda joined the virtual event hosted by Shirley Robertson, to look back on the challenges of 2020 and explore the opportunities that lie ahead.

One of the highlights of the day was a message from the RYA President, HRH The Princess Royal, who thanked volunteers for the innovative ways that they have adapted following lockdown.

“Volunteers have continued to support their clubs, classes and committees, helping their communities return to boating and giving people the confidence to enjoy being on and off the water as safely as possible,” said the RYA President, HRH The Princess Royal.

Earlier in the day, Sir Ben Ainslie shared some of his experiences responding to the challenges that INEOS Team UK faced during the pandemic. In a recorded interview, he highlighted the importance of his home club, the impact of volunteers on the sport and how it felt for him to be back on the water following lockdown.

“Getting out on the water after lockdown was a really refreshing moment,” says Ainslie. “Just that sensation of the water rippling under the hull of the boat as I left the pontoon and that sense of freedom that we all get when we are out on the water. It had been about three months since I’d been on the water previously and I realised how much I’d missed it and what a wonderful sport we’re all involved in.”

The RYA is now running a series of club development webinars, which can be booked online. Topics include recruiting and managing volunteers, environmental sustainability, reducing membership churn, engaging local communities, delivering a great experience to a wider audience, and promoting clubs to potential new members.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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