National Watersports Month : May
Sounds interesting, so what is national watersports month and how can we all get involved? Each year the various national governing bodies that look after the interests of water based adventure activities try to promote their sports to the general public. This year, for the first time, they have decided to combine their efforts and promote watersports by declaring a nationwide month of events and activities.
During the month of May, the British Canoe Union, the Marine Federation, British Rowing, British Waterski and Wakeboard and the Royal Yachting Association have got together to celebrate UK watersports and try to encourage as many people as possible to have a go at one of the many sports available. Spurred on by the heroics of the British athletes during the recent 2012 Olympic Games and a warm summer, 2013, according to research, saw a total of 3.5 million adults or just over 7% of the UK population, take part in activities such as sailing and canoeing: a staggering increase of more than 700,000 people compared to the previous year! To take advantage of this growth and to ensure that 2014 is just as popular, more than 400 different events will be taking place up and down the country.
Tamsin Kirkpatrick from the British Marine Federation, part of the organising committee for the national watersports month promotion, told us that,
"We held our inaugural On The Water Weekend in April 2013, where 26 BMF Members put on events resulting in over 5,000 people getting out on the water. For National Watersports Month, we have a similar number of BMF Members putting on events, so we'd expect a similar number to get on the water as a direct result of our On The Water campaign, which forms part of National Watersports Month."
Data taken from the Watersports Participation Survey Executive Summary, provided by the British Marine Federation (BMF).
No longer May when you are reading this? No problem. Admittedly there are more events taking place in May and throughout the summer, but you can join in whenever you like. Keep reading to find out how.
Where can you take part
Surrounded by water and with plenty of lakes and rivers in easy reach, it is hardly surprising that so many of us like to take to boats or play in the surf during our leisure time. As a nation we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to go and get involved in watersports. The South Coast is home to a significant concentration of watersports centres that specialise in sailing, but you won't have to travel too far if you live further north and if you are in Wales or Scotland, you have the advantage when it comes to white water facilities for paddle sports.
Go Canoeing are running Go Canoeing Week from the 24th May until the 1st June and hope to introduce even more people to paddle sports this year. We spoke to Jon Schofield, who told us,
"Last year's week featured 140 activities at clubs and centres across the country, of which 120 were Starter Sessions, introducing 2,500 new participants into the sport. This year we have a wider range of activities available and so far have more than 200 activities registered."
What sports can you try
The term 'watersports' covers a wide variety of water based activities, meaning there is plenty of choice for anyone thinking about getting out on the water. The most popular forms of watersport are sailing and canoeing, but there is plenty more to consider if none of those float your boat appeal to you. What about water skiing, wakeboarding, yachting, rowing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, kite surfing, coasteering, outdoor swimming, power boating and canal boating.
Fancy a career in watersports
This recent boom in interest is great news for people wishing to get started in outdoor watersport instructing. More people participating means an increase in demand for qualified instructors and coaches. An entry level multi-activity job will often give you basic teaching qualification – enough to help supervise beginners in some sports. Alternatively you could join an instructor training programme which can last from a few weeks to a few months and give you a list of watersport coaching qualification and usually a decent stint of practical hands-on teaching, that will make your CV look really impressive. Make sure you check out our article on careers tips for watersports instructors too!
If you aren't already a competent sailor, canoeist, (or any of the numerous other water-based sports) then the best way to get involved in the coaching side is to build up your own skills first. While it is possible to jump straight in and learn to teach at the same time, having a high degree of personal skill is the best starting point in our book.
In an effort to embrace this month of watersports, we have taken the opportunity to call upon some of our industry friends and colleagues, and asked them to spare some time to chat about their involvement and plans for the future. First up, Rockley Watersports who are based at Poole in Dorset, they told us about the courses that they offer.
"Whether a two hour taster session, one day dinghy sailing refresher or 10 day intensive instructor training course we provide the highest quality of instruction resulting in a fantastic and fun learning experience. All courses are designed to cover every aspect needed in the learning process of each sport. Our instructors are experienced and all trained to RYA standards and whether we are taking first-timers out on the water or examining instructors through their training each and every course is informative, safe and enjoyable."
Discover jobs and courses with Rockley Academey
Staying on the South Coast, we caught up with the guys at UKSA. You can follow the link to read our full interview with director, Ben Willows.
"We are really excited about National Watersports Month! We have scheduled a whole month full of discounted taster sessions, starting at just £10 per person. And for those thinking about a career in watersports, UKSA has recently introduced a bargain careers taster course for 16-25 year olds considering a life at sea, so if I was starting out that is what I would do, and what I would recommend to those undecided about their future. Opportunities Afloat is a five day residential for just £199, food, kit and tuition included. It's the perfect introduction to UKSA sailing and watersports courses, different training paths available and the booming maritime industry."
Discover jobs and courses with UKSA
Want some more stats
If you enjoy reading charts, graphs and pie charts then you may wish to head over to the Watersports Participation Survey, which has enough data to keep you busy for weeks.