A £15,000 investment is helping more people around Solihull discover sailing as Olton Mere Sailing Club launches six new boats.
Thanks to a £10,000 Sport England grant boost, donations of £1,250 each from the Shirley and Solihull Round Tables and a club contribution of £2,500, Olton Mere will be able to give even more locals the chance to get into the sport by adding six brand new popular Hartley 12 dinghies to its fleet of training and club boats.
The new boats are specifically aimed at getting more older youth and adult sailors on to the water by increasing the ease and appeal of trying the sport for newcomers while also allowing existing sailors to borrow state-of-the-art new kit to make their own sailing experience more enjoyable and varied.
Around 50 people tried sailing for free at Olton Mere SC as part of the club’s RYA Push The Boat Out Open Day in May, with a number of visitors signing up for learn to sail courses and becoming club members.
And last weekend saw the first four newcomers complete their RYA Level 1 and 2 learn to sail training at the club thanks to the new boats!
Kevin Watts, who managed the funding and purchase of the new boats for Olton Mere, said: “People will only stay in any sport if they enjoy it and having access to good equipment that is easy and comfortable to use is a key part of that.
“People think you need to own a boat to go sailing, but the reality is that we, like most sailing clubs, have our own club boats that people can use to start to learn to sail on our RYA ‘Start Sailing’ courses and then borrow as they improve and want to do more regular sailing or try racing without the expense of buying their own boat.
“These new Hartleys are far better for the older age ranges due to their size and comfort, and we can get 12 people on the water all in the same boats at the same time. We hope the new boats will improve retention of new members as they move through the ‘learn to sail’ and improver stages until they purchase their own boats.”
It is not too late to get into sailing at Olton Mere SC this year. There will be more RYA learn to sail courses arranged to suit demand. Anyone interested in organising a taster sail should visit the club website at oltonmere.org or contact the secretary at email@example.com