UK Sailing Academy announces 10-year anniversary for its Test the Water Programme for Year 6 Islanders

Published 30/04/2024

The UK Sailing Academy, UKSA, has announced it is celebrating 10 years of its Test the Water Programme this summer. As the anniversary approaches, it is looking to track down some of the Island’s first beneficiaries to see what they are doing now. If you remember going on a Test the Water trip with your primary school in 2014, the Cowes based charity would like to hear from you and are offering the chance to return to UKSA with five of your friends and family for a free Watersports Day this summer.

Barton Primary School 2014

Launched in August 2014, UKSA’s Test the Water programme enables all Year 6 Island children to participate in a free half-day watersports session each year. Sailing is often viewed as an elitist sport and UKSA wants to change any preconceptions locally by supporting all young islanders to gain water-confidence alongside introducing them to sailing. As well as covering aspects of water safety, which is crucial to island life, the sessions are designed to build confidence and develop key life skills including communication, resilience, and teamwork.

Elisha Hooper, Head of Fundraising at UKSA said: “The Test the Water programme was developed to make a real, tangible difference to Island children and thanks to the generous support of local donors and Island businesses, we are able to offer this programme to every year six class. At UKSA, local children are funded to experience the thrill of sailing and watersports whilst also learning about the importance of water safety. 32 percent of children on the Isle of Wight live in poverty and it’s only through the support of our local community that we can enable children and young people of all abilities and backgrounds to access vital outdoor learning experiences.”

Since 2014, 10,479 Year 6 students have taken part in the Test the Water programme from 51 Island primary schools and this year UKSA is expecting over 1400 children to take part in a half-day session.

Oakfields Primary School 2024

As part of its Test the Water anniversary celebrations, UKSA are running a free ‘Try Sailing’ Event from Cowes Yacht Haven during Cowes Week in July where visitors can enjoy a 40-minute sailing session on one of the charity’s keelboats.  Participating sailors will be asked to make a donation to the Test the Water fund.

Other celebrations include teaming up with Cowes Fringe who have invited London based street artist, Jim Vision, to create a large-scale Test The Water mural on one of UKSA’s bigger main sails. The Cowes community and visitors to the Fringe Festival will be able to watch this creation take shape live on Saturday 23 May 2024 outside Cowes Harbour Commission Offices at Town Quay.

How you can support Test the Water