SYCSA is a charity run by volunteers which has been teaching sailing to youngsters and adults for 25 years. On a typical Saturday morning we would expect to have 30 or more young sailors, maybe 4 or 5 adult students and 15 -20 volunteers / instructors.
We are an RYA training centre and we also participate in Onboard and Sailability schemes.
We teach sailing as part of our Saturday Youth Club. We also support scouts, guides as well as primary and secondary schools by running sessions for these groups, this places our club at the heart of supporting local youngsters.
During a typical year, around 500 children would take part in sailing activities with us. In addition, on our open days we may take several hundred people out for free taster sessions and we use some of our experienced young sailors to do this as we feel it helps to build their confidence, but also shows potential new sailors what they too can achieve. However, we have not been able to hold these open days this year due to lockdown, a source of new sailors has been lost.
We make sailing accessible to all ages and abilities and try to remove any financial barriers as we provide all the kit they require, the only thing we do not provide are wetsuits but these are not essential.
Many of our volunteer instructors are former students who have progressed through the various stages before becoming qualified instructors and we support all our students to become instructors and safety boat operators. We see this as a bonus, as it means we always have instructors which helps to sustain the club, and we find that our young sailors are happy to help and share their skills with new sailors.
We want to continue providing sailing opportunities for youngsters and adults alike.. During the lockdown we weren’t able to operate at all. Then with social distancing we can operate but only at about1/3 normal capacity. This has had a massive impact on our income and to ensure that our club can continue to be part of the local community we need to be able to cover fixed costs like insurance, rent, servicing of safety boats etc.
There is another problem. To ensure safe social distancing we have been unable to accept new sailors or even invite those young sailors who joined last year. The problems have been :
- not enough single handed boats.
- small and inexperienced students will tend to need a lot of close support from the safety boats - frequent capsizes and rescues.
- not being able to use the club house for shelter.
We need to be able to teach novice and relatively inexperienced sailors without frequent close intervention. We will buy a set of very small sails which will allow these students to practice the basics like steering, turning and sail setting without them becoming over powered/ blown over. This will reduce the ‘hole’ that will develop in future years as the lack of new sailors now becomes a lack of experienced sailors and instuctors in the future.
We also need to supply some form of shelter as we move into the autumn. We have to teach some theory as well as practical skills and a shelter like a gazebo /event shelter would provide a dry, but well ventilated space.
- we cover the fixed costs of insurance, rent and servicing of safety boats
- we pay for materials that are needed for the routine ongoing maintenance to our sail boats that still needs doing
- we buy a set of very small sails for our small single handed boats
- we buy a gazebo/event shelter
While it is great fun and an exciting sport, there are other important benefits as well. These include the development of team work, self-confidence, resilience, leadership and communication skills. We encourage children to work with different age groups both young children to adults, which helps them to develop confidence and self-esteem. We have many children who have additional needs and learning needs and this club supports them and in many cases we see a noticeable increase in their sailing and general confidence in a very short space of time.
The club's inclusive approach has been recognized by the RYA through two Panerai awards to students for progressing in spite of personal adversity. We encourage all students regardless of their aspirations. Some become keen successful racers, others just like sailing for fun and yet others want to become instructors and pass on their skills to the next generation.
One of the rewards:
Large acrylic on canvas original painting by Canadian artist Caitlin Bailey. £350+
See side panel