The latest “Watersports Participation Survey” headline – New research shows watersports participation is on the rise – came as a surprise to those of us who have been led to expect the imminent demise of all watersport activity in Britain.
But according to new research just released, more people are participating in watersports, a trend that has continued for the past three years.
The volume of participants in ‘any activity’ has increased again and is now the third year in a row that has seen an increase.
Whooo, this sounds like a trend . . .
But it turns out that ‘any activity’ is actually what most people do on a sunny weekend or when they are on holiday.
• Spending leisure time at the beach, coastal walking and outdoor swimming
Apparently, this is now all part of “Watersports” and thus an area of interest to the RYA and presumably World Sailing and the International Olympic Organisation, who will no doubt announce a new Olympic sport, complete with gender equality quotas.
This enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that . . .
“With 2018 being the UK’s joint hottest summer on record, it is no surprise that participation in watersports activities has increased.” And that “This was mainly due to a surge in the easy access activities – a higher proportion of people spent time at the beach and coastal walking in 2018 than previously”
And . . . the most popular activities overall, remain the ones that are most accessible, without the need for any training or equipment.
So, having stated the bleedingly obvious what else did this document reveal?
Well, Summer remains the key season when most of the activity takes place, with over half of people participating between June and August!
And no “Survey” could leave out good old Brexit . . . because it has to consider . . . “the decreasing consumer confidence and economic uncertainty as a result of ongoing Brexit negotiations”, of course if we get a Deal (any deal) watersports will be in the forefront of our economic recovery.
But in all this up-lifting news, there has to be a downside . . .
The proportion of “Enthusiasts” has however dropped, with 164,000 less people participating 6 or more times in their activity within the last year.
I love the precise numbers these surveys conjure with, “164,000 less people, 6 or more times”, that indicate the apparent tipping point between boom or bust.
And Canal Boating is now totally overwhelmed, with 100,000 more people compared to last year. World Sailing take note – the BBC effect?
But for one of the RYA’s more niche areas of influence there is a small glimmer of light.
Small sailboat racing has managed 0.4% participation in 2018 up from 0.3% particpation in 2008.
Let the good times roll.