KIDS AND BOATS = FUN!
MORE than 400 children have participated in the Boatshed's boating and sailing programs since it opened its doors in September last year. Over 1000 kids have participated in a boating safety program.
If that wasn't enough proof of the facility's success, just speaking to some of the children who have enjoyed sailing at the Boatshed is testament to its popularity.
Take Ziggy for example. The youngster didn't enjoy many sports at all until he tried sailing at the Boatshed. Then there's Stan who wants to have his 11th birthday at the venue.
Boatshed manager Rod Austin said so far around 30 per cent of participants in the introductory learning to sail program had continued to the next level. He said he expected many of those to continue well into next year.
``There are so many success stories and the level of success can be judged by the number of kids that want to come back and go to the next level,'' Mr Austin said.
``The kids are encouraging their parents to become more involved in sailing. Lynda Day has been taking part in the sailing program for adults and her son Jackson, who only started late last year, has already come third in the Minnow Green Fleet State Titles.''
There is currently a large range of sailing and boating programs on offer at the Boatshed – for both children and adults - and, although the message of safety is loud and clear, it is obvious the focus of the programs is to have fun.
Yachting Victoria's CEO Ross Kilborn said the Boatshed was a unique training facility in that it was essentially developed with children in mind.
``There is nothing else like it in the state,'' Mr Kilborn said. ``It puts kids first – it is built around the kids – it is not a facility that has incorporated kids into its programs, it has been developed with kids first and foremost.''
Mr Kilborn said another important factor was that the Boatshed did not compete with yacht clubs.
``The Boatshed is essentially a facility aimed at teaching children to sail, with the aim that they will then graduate to become members of yacht clubs with a keen interest in sailing,'' he said.
Keeping that sentiment in mind, a strong component of the Boatshed is its dedication to developing programs such as Tackers. The Tackers program is an introductory sailing course for children with its focus on fun and safety. Still in its infancy, the hope is that one day Tackers will do for sailing what Auskick has done for AFL.
``A lot of the programs we have are developed as a sounding board. We can work out what works and then give the programs to Yacht Clubs so they can benefit from them,'' Mr Kilborn said.
Mr Kilborn said Albert Park Lake had always been seen as the ``nursery'' of sailing with its safe waters, protected from wave and adverse wind conditions.
Mr Kilborn said this, therefore, made the Boatshed the perfect venue for beginner sailors who may be a little nervous taking to the waters for the first time.
Jacqui Niall of Hawthorn, started taking sailing lessons after watching her children take part in the popular Tackers program.
``I had never sailed before,'' Mrs Niall said. ``It's great to be learning a new skill.''
Sailability, a not-for-profit program for disadvantaged children, or people with a disability, is another major program at the Boatshed.
The aim of this program is to introduce people of all ages and abilities to sailing. Participants can enjoy Sailability as a recreational and social activity or develop their skills and compete in races and regattas at a local, state, national or even international level.
Mr Austin said that so far, more than 250 people had taken part in Sailability at the Boatshed since October.
``Kids from backgrounds who have never had the opportunity to be on the water are now sailing thanks to the Boatshed,'' Mr Austin said.
Keeping children involved in sailing in their teenage years has long been a priority of Yachting Victoria, and the Boatshed has programs specifically targeting secondary school students once they graduate from learn to sail programs that compliment their participation at clubs.
Around 150 secondary school students had learned to sail or competed in school teams racing since Term 4 last year, Mr Austin said.
``Schools such as Trinity Grammar, McKinnon Secondary College and Xavier College have all taken part at the Boatshed and have now all competed in the Victorian schools teams racing championships – the Victoria Harbour Schools Sailing Championships,'' Mr Austin said.
To enjoy any of the great programs on offer at the Boatshed, please call Rod Austin on 9686 2571 or go to www.theboatshed.net.au to read more about the exciting initiative to get more kids to go sailing.
Ends: Jennifer Milligan
Media & PR Yachting Victoria
0448 884 993