If you are considering joining the RYA you will want to know what you will get in return and what the organisation will be doing for you.

It is a fair question. You buy a boat, you might join a local club or association, get a couple of training certificates and just enjoy getting out on the water. Rarely, if at all, does British boating’s governing body enter your psyche.

But what you might not know is if you have used duty paid red diesel whilst boating at home and in parts of Europe over the past few years, you have been able to do so without fear of fines because of the lobbying work the RYA continues to do with the British government on your behalf.

Or, when you pass through or anchor in a Marine Conservation Zone around the UK coastline, that is permitted because the RYA has campaigned to ensure the navigation rights and safety of recreational boaters are taken into account in the selection and designation of MCZs and that ‘safe haven’ areas are not affected.

Or, when you are taking an RYA course at your local club or marina, that training centre has been inspected to ensure it meets the highest standards of safety, management, tuition and equipment.

RYA at work

You might not be aware of everything being achieved, but the RYA’s raison d’être is to promote and protect safe, successful and rewarding British boating. So if that is you, it is because of the RYA’s work.

As Conor Swift, RYA Membership Development Manager, explains: “The first question I always get asked is: what does the RYA do for me?”

“Annually 2.5m people in the UK participate in one of the disciplines the RYA oversees. As the representative and recognised voice of British competitive and recreational boating, the RYA stands up for boaters’ interests at all levels, campaigning on important issues including safety, access and freedom to go afloat.

“The RYA is a member’s organisation, run by and for our members. By combining the voice of every one of the 111,000 plus members we currently have, we can achieve our aim of giving all boaters the peace of mind to enjoy safe, successful and rewarding experiences on the water. The more voices we have, the louder we can shout.”

By taking an RYA course you know it will meet the highest standards. Image: Paul Wyeth

Your needs first

To fulfill its mission, all the surplus made from RYA membership – last year £3.7m – is reinvested into the sport between three RYA departments:

  • Legal and government affairs – including lobbying, advice and information
  • Sport Development – including comprehensive club support nationwide
  • Racing – including supporting pathway development across all disciplines

The traditional perception is RYA members are all cruisers and yacht owners, and yacht cruising is the most popular activity among RYA members. But, over the past couple of years, membership amongst dinghy sailors has grown faster than in any in other discipline. The ‘what does the RYA do for me?’ is hitting home with more boaters than ever as RYA membership numbers have reached a record high.

Why has this happened?

Conor continues: “We know RYA members like feeling part of a community, sharing the same passion and making a positive difference to the boating they do. So over the past two years ago we have worked to ensure RYA membership is more relevant to whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever type of boating you do.

“More and more people are now connecting their windsurfing in Wales, canal boating on the Kennet and Avon, club dinghy sailing in the Midlands, powerboat racing in the North West, whatever and wherever it might be, with being part of a wider community where they can make this positive difference to their boating.”

Last September, RYA membership was re-launched in four new categories, each tailored to benefit its specific audience.

  • Pathway – people who have just discovered boating and want to build their experience, skills and knowledge
  • Personal – recreational boaters who value their time on the water and want to help the RYA protect recreational boating from unnecessary regulation
  • Associate – members of RYA affiliated clubs or class associations
  • Accredited – RYA instructors, appointed RYA race officials and Race Coach level 2 and 3, commercial endorsement holders and RYA performance pathway sailors

Within these categories there are four membership types – Under 18, Under 25, Adult and Family. For as little as 12p a day, every member is doing their bit to help the RYA promote and protect the sport they love.

Every member also receives free boating related specialist legal, regulatory and technical advice and support from RYA experts. It also offers access to over 70 reward partners – from insurance, travel, clothing, equipment and chandlery benefits to more specialist perks such as discounts on sail numbers, fast-track certification and the RYA online shop – working to make their boating cheaper.

Meanwhile, the new Associate membership will soon bring direct benefits to affiliated clubs as every time someone joins the RYA as an Associate member and lists their club in the join up form, the RYA will credit a commission to that club, which will be paid quarterly.

The RYA offers expert advice across a broad range of boating areas from legal to technical

Future proofing

When people become RYA members they stay members, with average membership almost 10 years and the Association has a good retention rate at 85 per cent. This, combined with membership growth, has enabled the RYA to keep investing.

But now is not the time to start back slapping. The RYA knows its biggest challenge is to remain relevant to new generations of members with dramatically different needs, wants, values, expectations and ways of communicating.

As Conor concludes: “To maintain the health of boating, and to continue to protect the interests of all boaters, RYA membership has to remain buoyant.

“We are committed to ensuring RYA membership is relevant to everyone and are working to bring even more tailored benefits for the differing needs of each boating group we represent. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible.”

If you want to know more about RYA Membership visit www.rya.org.uk/go/join