Burton Sailing Club welcomes Landmark study highlighting the positive impact of getting onboard for young people

Wednesday 7th October 2020

Burton Sailing Club in the Midlands has welcomed a landmark study by the Institute of Education at University College London (UCL), which highlights the positive impact of the sport on the lives of young people who get on the water through the grassroots RYA OnBoard programme.


Watch the video here


Run by the Royal Yachting Association, OnBoard introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18 by connecting schools and youth groups with RYA clubs and training, offering low cost sessions promoting equal access to the sport from all social and economic backgrounds and encouraging character development.

The UCL report – ‘Children and Sailing: A research evaluation for the Royal Yachting Association and the Andrew Simpson Foundation’ – shows how OnBoard contributes to the development of life skills such as creativity, teamwork, determination, communication, independence and confidence. It also identifies how sailing and windsurfing correlate with benefits from physical activity generally and how RYA OnBoard plays an important role in tackling social injustice by providing unique experiences, which can help to develop self-confidence and open up further opportunities.


RYA OnBoard participants gain life skills in addition to learning how to sail credit RYA

(Photo: RYA OnBoard participants gain life skills in addition to learning how to sail. Credit: RYA)


Andrea Longley, Chief Windsurfing Instructor at Burton Sailing Club, said: “I’m delighted to see the benefits of sailing and windsurfing recognised in this impactful report. Of course, none of the findings are a surprise to me as we see the benefits to our juniors every week, however it does remain a surprise to me that we are not inundated with parents and juniors looking to realise some of these benefits themselves. It’s so important to pass this message through to schools and parents and I really hope that through seeing this report, more juniors choose to access the fabulous activities available at local sailing and windsurfing clubs.

“We’ve been really fortunate to have been able to continue to run windsurfing activities recently. It’s the perfect socially distanced sport, and with the support of parents who can drive our powerboats to enable easy pick-up of juniors who might have reached the limit of their energy reserves while on the water, we’ve enjoyed some really wonderful weekends and seen some great progression.”

Burton Sailing Club has seen many of its young sailors and windsurfers developing their racing skills and this month hosted the BYS (British Youth Sailing) Midlands Windsurfing Regional Junior Championships, which saw some great results for its Foremark Flyers Team15 windsurfers.


The full RYA OnBoard impact report can be read here. Researchers found:


  • OnBoard sessions are enjoyed by almost all participants and engender feelings of fun and freedom
  • The sessions contribute to a participant’s wider personal and social development. This included enhancing their social skills with both peers and adults; maturity; ability to accept responsibility and concentrate on tasks
  • Participants felt more supported by their peers. They also felt more relaxed and confident in themselves following an OnBoard session
  • OnBoard plays an important role in tackling social injustice. It provides unique experiences to those from disadvantaged backgrounds and can help to develop self-confidence and open up further opportunities.
  • OnBoard sessions particularly develop the attributes of teamwork, communication and confidence.


Hannah Cockle, RYA OnBoard Operations Officer, added: “Being on the water creates multiple situations where young people are challenged and tested as they learn a new activity. OnBoard provides a safe and proven structure for this to happen and a great environment to help them to develop the character attributes and capabilities that are so important for success in life.

“Most of the children and young people involved in the project had never sailed before, despite the sailing sites being located next to their own local communities. Teachers highlighted how there can be a perception around whom sailing is open to, but OnBoard gives students access to a type of experience they would not normally get in their everyday lives.”

A total of 371 young people (aged 8-17), from 19 schools and 14 sailing clubs or commercial sailing centres, completed before (baseline) and after (follow-up) questionnaires for the RYA OnBoard Impact Report. Additionally, 11 instructors, teachers and parents/carers were also interviewed by researchers.

Parents, young people and centres wanting to find out more about how to get involved with OnBoard are invited to visit www.rya.org.uk/go/onboard