A North West Sailing Club has been been shortlisted for a prestigious award after increasing both membership and activities through new initiatives.
Arnside Sailing Club is in a line-up of 11 finalists for the Royal Yachting Association and Yachts & Yachting Club of the Year Award 2019, supported by Gallagher, with the outcome being determined by a public vote. The winner will be announced at the RYA Dinghy Show on Saturday 02 March.
Club spokesman Alasdair Simpson said: “We have had an outstanding year thanks to all the volunteers in the club. It is great to be short-listed for the Award.”
The turnaround started after membership fell to just 32 in 2013, many of those members being older and tending to have cruising yachts based elsewhere, so sailing less frequently at Arnside. Thanks to a revival programme this year club membership reached 138 with a mix of 61 youngsters and the rest adults, with thriving activity on the water.
The club began by buying some second hand dinghies well suited to youngsters in the 8 to 12 year age group and launching a programme of cadet training for youngsters from the village. Being situated on the estuary of the River Kent in Cumbria, word soon spread among villagers and there was a good influx of youngsters.
In 2016 the training was extended to adults, initially with two day courses making the most of high tides. The club also started to use facilities at Killington Lake for more cadet training. In 2017 the adult training courses were also switched to Killington and this year there were 12 adults trained there.
The club has also set out to appeal more to women and ran training for them, with seven taking part, aside from those who had joined through the adult programme.
Alongside this, the club has changed its pattern of boat ownership. Instead of all craft being owned by individuals, the club has been seeking grants and buying boats that can be used by all members, thus making much better use of storage space and responding to social trends that have seen people more willing to hire than buy. Thanks to grants from Sport England and a number of local trust funds, the club now has 12 boats (having sold the original pair).
“If you have privately owned boats, sailing is limited to when those individuals can get along, whereas club boats get used all the time, so the club will be seeking the money to buy more,” Alisdair explained.
RYA Programmes Manager, Michelle Gent said: “It’s a privilege to be able to reward clubs and their volunteers for all their hard work and it has been truly inspirational to hear about all the exciting initiatives taking place in our clubs.
“I am really looking forward to meeting all of the finalists at the RYA Dinghy Show and would encourage the public to get voting.”
Georgie Corlett-Pitt, Editor of Yachts & Yachting added: “We are very pleased to have, once again, received such a high calibre of entries. The nominations allow us an insight into some exceptional initiatives underpinning the grassroots of our sport and we look forward to recognising and rewarding the overall winners.
“It’s certainly a tough competition, but now it’s over to the public to decide.”
You can find out more about the club and vote for them via: http://awards.yachtsandyachting.co.uk/rya/arnside-sailing-club/.
Voting closes on Monday 28 January.
For more information about how to get out on the water in the North West region visit www.rya.org.uk/go/startboating.