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Canoeists Add Splash of Life to NI’s Quoile Yacht Club As It Works to Broaden Watersport Appeal

6th March 2022
Canoeing at Quoile Yacht Club
Canoeing at Quoile Yacht Club

The latest in the RYA’s Spotlight series puts the focus on Quoile Yacht Club as the Northern Ireland club tries to broaden its appeal beyond traditional events like its Spring Series.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, events around the lough had dwindled somewhat, and the activity around the club was generally quieter,” the Co Down club’s Vicky Bridges says.

“To give the club a boost and also to inject a bit of excitement and energy back into our Quoile Yacht Club weekends, we decided to get in contact with the Ulster Canoe Club, to offer them an opportunity to hold the Ulster Canoe Festival at our club.”

The event took place 3-5 September 2021 and Bridges says it was was “a roaring success”.

She adds: “This not only created visibility for the club – in that it meant that lots of advertising was taking place – but it also demonstrated to a whole new group of watersport enthusiasts that QYC was not just a one-sport club.

“Not only did we welcome 85 canoeists and their families, we also provided camping facilities for those who had tents, and made room for 20 camper vans. We hired catering and even had a local water sports shop set up a pop-up shop in the clubhouse.

“We were able to demonstrate that QYC is not just about sailing but is a weekend away, a family holiday, a peaceful break from your working week.”

Bridges emphasises that the overwhelming feedback, from club members up to the commodore, was that the event “had been a delight to host” and was enjoyed by all.

“Events such as this one have a positive impact on our club not only financially, but also socially,” she says. “QYC has now made valuable connections with like-minded clubs and organisations, who will support and work with the club in future.”

The future of watersport is very much on minds at the club, Bridges says, as a wider range of people move to activities such as open water swimming, paddle-boarding and canoeing — promoted by a new focus since the pandemic on improving mental health and wellbeing.

“An event such as this encourages the sustainability of the club as it creates enthusiasm, boosts accessibility and ultimately means that we end up with more membership applications,” she says.

“Going forward, QYC is keen to consider the various different water sports that we may be able to offer, and to continue to engage in partnerships such as these. We are currently considering any other sports that could be managed from our setting.

“Boating is that which we all have immense passion for and are very enthusiastic about – but we have learned from this experience that it is incredibly important to consider new trends and interests, and to move forward with these. This keeps our club current, attractive, growing and therefore thriving.”

Afloat.ie Team

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