AN EDUCATION expert has found that sailing can play a major role in shaping the character of young people.

Professor Bill Lucas reached his conclusions during a research project organised to tie in with the RYA's re-launch of its youth grassroots programme, OnBoard.

Run from sites around the country - including the Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre at Yeadon Tarn - OnBoard offers low-cost sailing opportunities to local schools and youth groups.

Prof Lucas, Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning and Professor of Learning at the University of Winchester, found that sailing nurtures seven key strengths.

Those are: creativity, confidence, teamwork, communication, determination, independence and performance.

He said: "I’m struck by how much of a child’s life in school, can be focused on exams and how much more needs to focus on the other things that help them to do really well in life, including resilience and learning to work with others.

"If you do those things better, exam results get better and people who have these attributes get on better in life. They are much happier and can be more flexible and adaptable to embrace challenges.

"All the evidence says for a young person to flourish in the 21st Century the character attributes they need are on that list of seven.

"It is no longer a question as to whether these things are important, it is now all about how you do it.

“Sailing can provide an answer to that ‘how’, whilst also providing all the other benefits it brings like having fun with friends and family, being active and getting outdoors."

Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre at Yeadon has about 15 juniors out on the water every week during the summer month.

It also, as an official RYA OnBoard club, works with 50 local schools and youth groups including St Oswald’s Primary, Ashville College, Green Meadows SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre), Springwell Academy PRU (Pupil Referral Unit) and SILC units, and Leeds Youth Service.

Chief Instructor Jackie Friend said: "We’ve always known the life skills young people learn from sailing go far beyond the practical skills of controlling a boat

"It’s great that has now been shown to match what the educational research says."

More than half a million young people have been introduced to sailing and windsurfing since RYA OnBoard launched in 2005 - with some ten per cent going on to take up the sport regularly.

To find out how to get involved visit .