With the eyes of the sailing world turning towards Cardiff, the national governing body for boating in Wales is setting up a new charity to ensure people of all ages and backgrounds get more opportunities to make waves.
The Volvo Ocean Race, just about to start a two-week stopover in Cardiff as the boats race across the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island in the US, represents the top end of sailing.
RYA Cymru Wales is setting up the All Afloat charity to open up a new pathway into sailing or windsurfing for communities that would not normally engage with boating, giving them a chance to learn the life skills and gain the employment opportunities through the sport.
For example, Bleddyn Mon, on the Turn the Tide On Plastic boat, came up through Anglesey sailing and the RYA Cymru Wales system, while Trystan Seal on the Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag boat learned to sail in Cardigan Bay.
The initiative has been welcomed by the Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, who said, “The Volvo Ocean race coming to Wales will shine a light on the opportunities available relating to sailing and I’m delighted that All Afloat is being set up to ensure people of all ages and backgrounds get more opportunities to sail and for communities to see that sailing is a sport which is accessible to all.”
The private funding through the All Afloat charity will allow Welsh boating to build on the RYA OnBoard programme and Sport Wales development.
RYA Cymru Wales is pleased to see and support a number of activities happening in Cardiff Bay during the VOR stopover, including:
Try Sailing with Cardiff Watersports centre – available for the whole two weeks
RS Tera National championships (An RYA recognised junior class boat) hosted by Cardiff Bay Yacht club (1st to 3rd June)
Magenta Project and RYA Cymru Wales are hosting an Only Girls afloat event including Volvo M32 Catamaran racing followed by afternoon tea and Women in sailing discussion. Thursday 7th June
Volvo Youth academy sailing and International Optimist Class association host junior team racing in Cardiff Bay on Saturday 9th June.
Together these events represent a lasting sailing legacy and with All Afloat supporting sailors from all backgrounds to enter the sport they are able to progress through supported clubs and centres and on to boats such as Volvo Ocean Race boats or Challenge Wales. Follow All-afloat at www.all-afloat.wales where we will be highlighting Welsh sailors who through sailing have had global opportunities.
All Afloat is an independent charity initiated by RYA Cymru Wales with the aim of providing boating opportunities to young or disabled people in Wales and equipping them with valuable life skills.
All Afloat delivered over 220 first experience sessions and certified over 70 young sailors through RYA recognised sailing centres and clubs in 2017, with initial seed funding from RYA Cymru Wales and by leveraging the RYA OnBoard programme. Crucially, many children have gone on to join local Sea Cadets and sailing clubs.
Companies who have already got involved with supporting the new charity include green energy firm Ecotricity, global communications provider PCCW Global and the John Andrews Charitable Trust.
“The arrival of the Volvo Ocean Racing boats in Cardiff means the eyes of the sailing world will be focussed on us like never before. It is a great chance to explain the wonderful opportunities and life skills sailing offers,” explained RYA Cymru Wales chief executive Phil Braden.
“Launching the All Afloat charitable organisation is a huge step for RYA Cymru Wales to ensure we continue to reach the parts of the community which we struggled to engage in years gone by.
“In 2018 and beyond we aim to continue transforming lives through the power of boating, with a double figure number of projects planned round the coast of Wales and now seeking sponsors to support more events in more locations.
“Sailing is often considered an out of reach sport and yet it has proven to deliver many life skill benefits and physical literacy in a controlled way. The independence gained while sailing a boat away from shore builds confidence and self-belief not seen in other sports.”
Tom Overton, Head of Community Sport at Sport Wales, commented, “With 2018 being Year of the Sea we consider this an important initiative to drive increased participation in such an all-encompassing sport.
“It is a sport in which we have seen some good podium success, but the rewards can be seen much wider as it can also lead to so many career opportunities.”
Cardigan Bay Watersports manager Crawford McLeary said, “We do have a number of our ex-pupils and staff who have developed with us and are now fully employed in boating related jobs in teaching and marine manufacturing.
“Most recently one worked on the Volvo Ocean Race leg to Hong Kong. Others have gone on to full-time employment within this industry. Our job is to give them the opportunity to aim higher and the confidence to succeed.”
Llandegfedd Watersports in Gwent are one of the clubs who will be involved, offering sessions to local schools and youth groups. “All Afloat funding to help deliver our OnBoard programme is a great starting point. After this development sessions will be run to improve their learning and get young people sailing independently,” explained Llandegfedd chief watersports instructor Owen Davies.
Taffy Osborne, Managing Director Colwyn Bay Watersports, added, “Last year we had over a hundred young people join us and take part in the programme and it was brilliant to work with the sort of kids that we don’t normally get day-to-day.
“It feels good to have made a real difference by involving children who don’t normally have the chance to do this kind of thing.”