Skip to content

The Schools Programme

RYST works with schools to fund and organize sailing lessons at RYA-approved watersports centres for children aged 9 to 15, at no cost to schools or parents.

FILM: ‘RYST at Polkerris Beach’ by Nikki Clemens

1 Why we’re needed

2 Why schools welcome RYST

3 Success stories

4 How to join our Schools programme

1 Why we’re needed

Learning to sail increases physical and mental well-being, building resilience, independence, self-esteem, confidence, teamwork and communication. These benefits are especially needed by children in Cornwall’s disadvantaged communities. But few families here can afford sailing lessons, and schools have no resource to offer sailing as a sport. In fact, there are children living just three miles from the sea who’d never been to the beach, let alone dreamed of going sailing, before they took to the water with us. Launched in 2015, RYST organises and funds sailing lessons by professional instructors at RYA-approved watersports centres, including helping children get RYA sailing qualifications. Our Schools programme is the only source of funding for schools in St Austell and the Roseland to pay for sailing lessons.

2 Why schools welcome RYST

Tania Findlay MBE, Foxhole Learning Academy: “As well as getting children out in the fresh air having fun on the water, learning to sail brings a sense of achievement which helps build a child’s independence and self-esteem.”

Kate Martin, Restormel Academy: “They gained in confidence hugely: you could see their self-esteem increasing over the course. They had new experiences that they might never have had otherwise. We would like to send more pupils – if only they could all get this wonderful opportunity.”

Laura Pedlar, Brannel School: “It’s crucial for students’ character development to be given new challenges and sailing does this very well.”

Theresa Towe, Gorran School: “Parents can’t believe how lucky their children are to have the opportunity to learn to sail. Bob’s team at Percuil Paddle & Sail create brave children, who when faced with challenges, use the skills they have been taught to keep a cool head and succeed. I feel that this is so important in an age where more and more young people are suffering from anxiety and depression. Being outside, being active, connecting with the environment and focusing on changes in the wind, water, and their surroundings can only make for happy children.”

3 Success stories

Bradley Pedrick

Bradley Pedrick had to overcome more challenges in his first 11 years than most of us would ever think possible in our lifetimes. He believes learning to sail is what enabled him to do it. He started sailing from Polkerris Beach in 2018 when he was in Year 5 at Foxhole Learning Academy in St Austell, one of the schools supported by the Trust. After winning RYA OnBoard’s Panerai Challenger Trophy in 2019, he decided to become a professional Paralympic sailor and was selected for All Round Champion Series 5, an event for 10 top young athletes from around the world, televised in 2022 and 2023. He says: “If there’s anything other people can do with two legs, I can do it with one.”

VIDEO: Bradley and his Mum on how sailing helped him overcome challenges.

Sailing through the pandemic

When lockdown closed schools in spring 2020, our Schools programme came to an abrupt halt, at a time when children needed more than ever to get out on the water. But during the summer we were able to find a workaround that respected social distancing guidelines. We offered one-to-one tuition to the first 100 children to express their interest – and had 200 applicants in the first week. This project would not have been possible without the generous support of Cornwall Community Foundation and TK Foundation, to whom we’re very grateful.

The RYST Schools Regatta

July 2022 saw the launch of our first ever RYST-organised regatta, open to children from schools participating in our regular term-time programme. Funded by the Trust, the inaugural RYST Schools Regatta was delivered by Roseland Paddle & Sail and St Mawes Sailing Club, whose Saturday race training is the envy of sailing clubs across the southwest. From the overwhelming positive feedback we’ve had, we plan for it to become a firm fixture in our calendar.

4 How to join our Schools programme

  1. Let us know your school is interested.
  2. Decide which class/es you’d like to benefit and which day/s of the week you can send children sailing.
  3. Assuming we can accommodate you, we then fix dates with the relevant RYA-approved centre, who will make sure instructors and kit are available.
  4. We cover the tuition costs. There’s no need for the school to pay anything.
  5. Other than making sure transport is available to the centre and back, there’s nothing else you need to do.

It’s as simple as that. To join our Schools programme, please contact us at info@ryst.org.uk