Early participation in boating has proved to lead to many different positive outcomes. The goal of All Afloat is to open up these opportunities to every young person in Wales who is within reasonable reach of appropriate water.
RYA Cymru Wales has a history of supporting young people on this journey and there is conclusive proof that early introduction to boating gave them key life skills that helped them on a career path which has frequently led to travel and exciting employment.
Across Wales All Afloat supports the pathway to open up these many opportunities and really transform lives.
Each individual project may vary depending on group, delivery centre and location but they follow a common set of modules which help build a progressive journey.
Each module is progressive and requires different levels of support but all are focussed on engagement, fun and developing life skills.
In 2017, the All Afloat programme kicked off with Boating Taster Days, designed to introduce young people to sailing for the first time. These were followed by After School Sailing sessions.
Boating Taster Days
Starting in May 2017, sailing taster sessions began to take place across Wales, the aim, to give young people the chance to try sailing and boating for the first time. Designed to give young people the opportunity to take part in sailing and boating activities with an emphasis on safety and fun.
At each taster day all of the necessary equipment was provided, meaning the young people could turn up and get out on the water with minimal fuss.
In Colwyn Bay, the young people all had the chance to try out their sailing skills and had a fabulous fun day on the beach and in the sea. A free lunch was provided and the whole event was photographed and filmed by TVConwy ( http://www.tvconwy.net ). Similarly the Llannion Cove and Cardiff Bay taster days were filmed and photographed by local press and the RYA Cymru Wales team.
The children who attend the taster days thoroughly enjoy learning to sail, taking ‘on board’ sea, water and boating safety before getting into a boat, all of which was delivered by experienced, friendly and competent staff and volunteers. The goal is to get over half of them hooked and wanting to continue to the next supported phase.
After School Sailing Club
The All Afloat After School Club provides the opportunity for those participating children initially aged between 9 & 10 to continue developing their sailing skills during a number of supervised pre-arranged sailing sessions. Each session is designed to increase their confidence and allow them to complete their RYA Stage 1 certification – the first stepping stone in a boating career that will develop a broad set of lifeskills.
Some of the main activities involve launching and recovery of sailing boats, learning to handle a boat, steering, learning about the different parts of the boat and basic seamanship skills – in other words the they’re taught to steer a small sailing boat and understand the basic principles of boating safety.
Beyond basic boating skills the activities develop life skills which leads to a growth in confidence, learning to work as part of team, understanding the benefits of ‘taking part’, and for some it is the first time that they will feel ‘included’ regardless of skills. Some will find a natural ability to learn a sport that would previously not have interested them because they did not know how to access the opportunities. This is the great part about All Afloat – it gives kids an opportunity to do something totally outside of their ‘norm’.
To foster and support a sense of engagement upon successful conclusion of the after All Afloat After School Club, each young person is given a free RYA OnBoard T-Shirt and a Start Sailing Log Book.
Holiday Sailing Club and Regatta
The All Afloat holiday club provides the opportunity for participants from the after school club to continue their journey throughout the summer break period. It allows them to continue developing their boating skills and typically they will work towards RYA Stage 2 certification. It typically lasts for six days with the sixth day being a fun regatta.
The final day All Afloat regatta is an opportunity for them to show off the skills they have learnt as well as proving to themselves what they have achieved. It is a proven confidence booster. The regatta also provides the opportunity for programme supporters and sponsors to attend and recognise the achievements of all participants.
RYA OnBoard Festival
The RYA OnBoard festival is a weekend event typically held at the end of August. RYA Cymru Wales supports two festival events, one at Bala for North Wales sailors and one at Llangorse Lake for South Wales. It brings together junior sailors of all experience levels and introduces the new and usually younger sailors to the older role models.
The festival typically starts on the Friday night with an informal gathering, registration and boat preparation. Saturday morning starts with briefings where all sailors are welcomed and informed of activities which will typically be racing in different fleets on Saturday and Sunday. The festival concludes with prize giving on Sunday afternoon. For some participants this may be the first time they have travelled away and offers a unique experience in a safe and controlled environment.