It all began in Denmark in 2007, when the forward thinking Danish Sailing Association (Dansk Sejlunion - DSU) realized the importance of increasing sailing participation in their country. They put together a national training programme that could easily be run by parents or coaches and that was club based. They realized that there was really only one junior class offering a route into sailing and that an alternative was desirable. After examining all the options, the DSU selected the RS Feva because it is a two person boat (many children prefer to sail this way because they find it sociable and fun), it is modern, exciting to sail and has a strong rotomoulded construction making it ideal for club fleet use. The Feva aims to give a fresh image of sailing to a new generation of sailors.
The DSU negotiated an advantageous price for Fevas with a contribution from a sponsor Torm shipping, and promoted the scheme to Danish sailing clubs. The clubs were clearly eager for a nationally co-ordinated plan to build because they adopted the programme quickly - with all 100 boats available under the first stage of the plan ordered from RS within a few weeks.
The programme proved very successful in Denmark and two years later in 2009 the Norwegian Sailing Federation organized a similar scheme, assisted by sponsorship from Havfonn, a financial company owned by sailing enthusiast Morten Bergersen. The Norwegian programme enabled seventy five Fevas to be purchased by clubs, with a training programme implemented by the federation.
Meanwhile in Denmark, the scheme had created so much demand that the DSU and the clubs were keen to expand it. The second phase in 2009 saw 200 RS Tera dinghies purchased by clubs as well as another 50 Fevas. They say that many clubs are now running new junior sailing schemes, new clubs have become involved and junior sailing is increasing.
In the summer of 2009 the Dutch were the first country to prove that you don't have to have a sponsor to make it happen. They organised a scheme that also gave clubs nationwide the opportunity to purchase RS Fevas at preferential prices in cooperation with RS and their local dealer and around 60 Fevas were snapped up by Dutch clubs before the end of the year.
The RS Feva class has taken off internationally - it has been the world's biggest selling two person sailboat for the last five years. It looks and feels like a mini skiff, with an asymmetric spinnaker and modern design throughout. Already an ISAF International Class, the next RS Feva World Championship takes place in France this July where over 150 boats are expected. The Feva looks set to play a very big part in expanding junior sailing the coming years.
While Belgium has just become the latest country to adopt the Feva for a programme aimed at building sailing participation from grass roots level upwards, a number of other nations are also currently making plans.
RS now have a significant amount of experience at helping to put these kind of programmes together, from funding through promotion, distribution and branding to training schemes - they are, of course, keen to help any organizations who would like to find out more about implementing plans to build sailing participation. You can find out more about RS Sailing via their Connect to Sailing page or at www.RSsailing.com.
Connect to Sailing
RS Sailing is one of the official partners of Connect to Sailing, the global initiative led by ISAF in partnership with sailing industry to increase participation in sailing. To find out more about the Connect to Sailing initiative and the Connect to Sailing Partners, visit www.sailing.org/connecttosailing.