The NSSA is committed to improving equality and participation across our events. Over the last few years, we have introduced multiple schemes and initiatives in order to increase participation from underrepresented groups.
Economic Barriers to Participation at the NSSA
The NSSA recognises that the high costs of sailing can be a barrier to participation for some young people. In order to counter this, the NSSA have run several schemes in order to increase participation of these young people. These have included:
-The provision of bursaries to cover entry fees of NSSA events. NSSA members have been able to apply for a bursary to cover the cost of entry to NSSA events. In particular, these bursaries have been provided for our largest event and most expensive event, the National Regatta. In 2018, we awarded bursaries to 10 young people in order to allow them to attend the event.
-The provision of boats for events. The NSSA has provided short-term loan of boats to young people who are not able to own their own boat. At the 2018 regatta, we provided the use of six Z420's to young people, which allowed 12 young people to get out on the water.
-The provision of long-term loan boats. In 2018, the NSSA is aiming to launch a scheme to provide 6 single-handed boats on long term loan to young people who would not otherwise be able to own their own boat. More details of this scheme will be released shortly!
Girls at the NSSA
In 2011, the NSSA Equalities Officer conducted research into the effect participation has on young girls at NSSA events. The full research project and summary of this research can be found below. The research concluded that participation in NSSA events allowed young girls to construct a positive form of gender identity based on skill, success and effort. In addition to this, 77% of the young girls spoken to reported that they had experienced increased confidence levels since attending NSSA events.
Based on the positive findings of this research, the NSSA embarked upon several initiatives in order to encourage female participation at our events. These have included:
- Providing female coaches at events, particularly the National Regatta. Female coaches provide strong female sailing role models for all of our young sailors, especially those who may originate from clubs where women are underrepresented in sailing.
-Providing grants for county or local association based All-Girls training with female coaches. This initiative aimed to subsidise the cost of buying in female coaches for local associations and teams, allowing them to provide strong female sailing role models to their young people. The girls only training element also encouraged female participation at a local level by providing an approachable, relaxed space for young girls to go sailing.
-Limiting continuous stretches of time on the water at our events. Where possible, NSSA fleet racing events involve no more than two back-to-back races. This is to allow all our young people, but particularly menstruating young women, regular access to toilets while competing at our events.
-Improving toilet facilities at our residential events. All NSSA residential events are required to provide toilets that include sanitary bins and running water at all times, including throughout the night. This is intended to remove barriers to participation for menstruating young women.
Since 2010, the NSSA have been recording the rates of female participation at our largest event, the national regatta. This data illustrates the increasing rate of female participation at our events.
Transgender and Non-Binary Young People at the NSSA
The NSSA is currently working to improve the accessibility of our events to young people who may identify as transgender or non-binary. At NSSA events, all young people compete together, with no divide by gender. Because of this, NSSA events provide a space for all young people, regardless of their gender identity, to get involved in sailing. We are currently working to improve our engagement in this area - so watch this space!