Primary school students are being introduced to sailing at no cost after the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club became the first sailing club in the state to offer a Sporting Schools program.
A total of 115 Year 3/4 students from the Seacliff Primary School were the first to take advantage of the initiative, which uses federal government funding to put students through the club’s approved courses.
The students were able to get a feel for the sport every day this week with more schools along the coast expected to get involved throughout the summer.
The club’s sailing professional, Brett Yardley, said the up front cost of learning to sail was the major limitation in bringing new people into the sport and Sporting Schools allowed children to get involved more easily.
He said there was also positive feedback from school staff saying sailing was one of the most enjoyable programs on offer.
“The program means the students can get involved in sailing without any extra cost and we can get all the class groups down here so they have fun with all their mates,” Mr Yardley said.
“There’s been really good numbers at the club as well, the Saturday morning coaching is getting quite busy and kids are transitioning into club boats as well.”
Mr Yardley said it was currently a great time to get involved in the sport with the biggest sailing event the state’s ever seen, the SA Summer of Sail Festival, hitting the water later this month and in January.
About 1500 sailors from right around Australia and the world will be on the water competing for 15 separate national championships in a range of senior and junior classes.
The Sporting Schools partnership between Australian Sailing and the Australian Sports Commission has also allowed the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club to purchase 60 brand new Crew Saver lifejackets.
The program gives instructors the opportunity for more work while also providing clubs with opportunities to connect with schools, attract new members and coaches and have access to a range of online resources.
The Australian Sports Commission’s sport engagement and partnerships assistant director, Michael Procajlo, said the program aimed to introduce students to a range of sports so they follow up with more involvement at local clubs.
“What it really is aimed to do is provide greater access for kids to participate in sport and from there to continue at community level,” he said.
“We want to hopefully develop what becomes a lifelong association with those sports.”
Clubs are encouraged to get involved in Sporting Schools and bring more students into the sport and can do so by visiting sportingschools.gov.au or contacting their local Australian Sailing representative.