Report shows increase in boating

More people took up sailing in 2009 than they did the previous year a new survey commissioned by the British Marine Federation (BMF) Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and sponsored by, has revealed.

In 2009 up to 3.7 million UK adults participated in at least one of the 12 boating activities included in the survey*; this represents 7.2% of the UK adult population and demonstrates a recovery from the decrease reported in 2008.
This figure rises up to 13.2 million, 26.3% of the UK adult population, when including nine additional water related activities, such as swimming/coastal walking and angling.
The Watersports and Leisure Participation Survey, now in its eighth year, shows that over 1.4m people have participated in at least one boating activity at the coast and 1.7m have participated in at least one boating activity inland. These categories are not mutually exclusive; 420,000 people have participated both at the coast and inland.
In 2009 boating participation significantly increased in five of the 12 boating activities from the previous year:   
·         Canoeing                              (+0.60 percentage points)
·         Power boating                       (+0.58 percentage points)
·         Rowing/Sculling                     (+0.33 percentage points)
·         Small sail boat activities           (+0.26 percentage points)
·         Windsurfing                           (+0.19 percentage points)
Of all the boating activities, motor boating/cruising and canal boating show an upwards trend in participation since 2002, with power boating, yacht cruising and yacht racing showing stable participation trends. Female participation rates in boating have continued to increase over the eight years whereas male participation shows a slight decline.
The survey also found that 2.73% of UK households own at least one boat or craft out of the 12 boating activities.  This means an estimated 1.1 million boats/craft are owned by UK households. On average, 7% of these are kept abroad.  
There has been an increase in casual participation, indicated by the decline in average number of times people participate, which is a reversal of the trend in 2008. There are many reasons for this such as ‘having a go while on holiday’, ‘another family member starting to participate’, ‘being invited by a family member/friend to use their boat/equipment’ and ‘having wanted to do it for a long time’.   
This highlights that there is more to be done to encourage regular participation. The BMF and RYA recognise their responsibility in this area, with the BMF launching its own campaign, ‘On the Water’, earlier this year at the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show, to increase participation amongst the population. The campaign aims to raise the awareness of boating, break down the barriers to entry and, most importantly, encourage regular participation in boating.  
Similarly, the RYA has been running its ‘OnBoard’ campaign since 2004 which aims to give over half a million young people in Britain the opportunity to try sailing and windsurfing over 10 years.  This is now being extended with a focus on adult participation.
Rob Stevens, Chief Executive of the BMF said:
“It is encouraging to see an increase in participation levels in boating, watersports and water based leisure activities in 2009.  With the BMF’s On the Water campaign we are aiming to inspire more people to go boating regularly and, importantly, provide them with the information, resources, advice and ideas on how to do this. The decrease in regular participation demonstrates the necessity of such campaigns, to ensure information is available on how to participate easily and affordably.”
“It is particularly welcome that a large amount of people are choosing to participate in the UK rather than abroad. The UK offers a diverse range of boating and water sports opportunities that are accessible to everyone.”
Paul Bayliss, RYA Marketing Operations Manager said:
“This survey builds on the work of the past seven years and gives an invaluable insight into the trends in the marine industry.  All of the organisations involved in this programme have an interest in seeing more people getting out on the water more regularly and more safely, and this work is invaluable to assist us when planning our work in this area.”