Published: 09:00, 06 May 2015
Is sailing something you have always wanted to try but never had the opportunity?
Well, now is the time, as a number of locations across Kent are offering free taster sessions in a variety of watersports.
Last year, 260 clubs and centres in Britain hosted Push the Boat Out events with 17,000 people trying sailing or windsurfing for the first time over one weekend.
And this year organisers RYA, the national body of recreational boating, has extended it to run from Saturday, May 9, to Sunday, May 17.
The eight-day event will see sailing clubs and watersports centres across the land – including 16 in Kent – open their doors and give people a chance to have a go at sailing and windsurfing for free.
With barbecues and social activities taking place at the same time, its also a great opportunity to try something new and make new friends along the way.
“Push The Boat Out is a series of open days to get people out and try the watersports for free. I think the biggest misconception for sailing is that it is expensive, but it is not,” explained RYA sailing development officer for the South East, Sam Rowe.
“It is a lot cheaper than a gym membership. It is a great sport to get involved in and anyone of any age should try!
“A family of four can be members of a local club for as little as £10 to £15 a month, and most clubs have boats you can borrow for a morning, afternoon or evening from as little as £3 to £5 or sometimes for free, depending on the boat and club or centre.
“Also, you can sail leisurely or get involved in the competitive side, which is great.”
There is plenty to do at Bewl Water Country Park for those who don’t fancy taking to the water.
Families can enjoy a children’s play area, walking cycling and riding routes, fishing, or discover the 3,000 different species of wildlife living at the nature reserve.
There is also the Woodpecker Coffee Shop and Bistro, or picnic areas for those who want to bring their own refreshments.
Alongside the sailing club, there is also rowing and canoe clubs.
Bewl Valley sailing club has about 700 members aged from as young as six to 80 who can sail on the reservoir every weekend and Wednesday.
Family membership costs £223 for the year. The club offers sailing, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding.
Trevor Spink, commodore of Bewl Valley Sailing Club, said: “Sailing is a safe, fun and exciting sport which is very easy to start and impossible to stop!
"It’s ideal for families to do together and that is one of the things that is unique about sailing. You go out on the boat and think about the wind and the sail, you forget about your phone or what someone has posted on Facebook.”
Entry to Bewl Water is £8 for a car of up to five people and £4 for a single person.
Bewl Valley Sailing Club’s Push The Boat Out day is on Saturday, May 9. More details at www.bewlvalleysc.co.uk
Kent venues offering Push The Boat Out events include:
Bewl Valley Sailing Club
Broadstairs Sailing Club
Cinque Ports Pirates Sailing Club (Dover)
Downs Sailing Club (Deal)
Hampton Pier Yacht Club (Herne Bay)
Herne Bay Sailing Club
Hoo Ness Yacht Club
Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club
Margate Yacht Club
Medway Yacht Club
Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club (Dover)
Royal Temple Yacht Club (Ramsgate)
Seasalter Sailing Club
Tankerton Bay Sailing Club
Tonbridge Town Sailing Club
Varne Boat Club (Greatstone)
Wilsonian Sailing Club (Rochester)
To book a taster session, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/ptbo.