Making the transitional from the comparative safety of OnBoard to the perceived 'scary' world of club racing, as many of you already know, in reality it is not at all scary, but great fun.
These tips will hopefully give you food for thought over the winter, to help make the transition of young sailors in your club or centre more straightforward.
– enthusiasm and confidence, hopefully you had a great end to the season and keeping the momentum of young sailors is important.
– having a key person within your organisation to act as coordinator is vital. They will be the first point of contact and deal with any queries or questions, from both sailors, parents and your organisation on the topic of transitioning to racing. They’ll also be a friendly face that’s been around during OnBoard sessions and racing sessions, making this transition easier.
– young people might have done a little bit of racing before through their OnBoard sessions, but training and confidence building is really important. Remember to break all aspects of racing down into manageable, well-planned sessions, so it follows a logical progression in easy bite-sized chunks. Winter is also a great time to think about training up Race Coaches in time for the new season to run these sessions.
4. Winter racing rules sessions
– why wait until the summer? You can start over the winter by holding informal rules sessions on different aspects of racing to demystify what happens. These can be run by club racing rules advisors or just enthusiastic members, but ensure it's pitched right for the skills and abilities of the group. Make use of video footage/real life examples gathered during the season to keep it relevant. This can also be a great social session and an opportunity to catch up with friends over the winter.
5. Transition groups
– moving from learning to sail to race can seem like a big step. Use transition groups, grouped by age/those of similar ability, to make this progression easier. Having a group at roughly the same level also helps with camaraderie, support and learning together.
6. Inspirational role models
– utilise existing sailors as inspirational role models for those just embarking on their sailing journey. Maybe a member has just taken part in Zone Squads for the first time, sailed in a National Championships, or maybe you even have a champion within your ranks. Whoever it is and whatever their achievement, this will be inspiring to newer sailors, particularly if they have come from the same starting point. Get them to talk about and share their experiences to enthuse sailors about starting to race.
7. Start early next season
– don’t leave it until the middle of summer, but get racing sessions underway as soon as you can. This means it’s a fresh new activity at the start of the training year, with plenty of time to progress and develop over the summer months. Keep it fresh, exciting and progressive – try different boats, different race formats and ways of building confidence.
8. Encourage race activity
– find incentives to get young people to take part in racing activity. This might be as simple as having a number of tasks to complete e.g. participate in X number of club races, or encouraging involvement in racing as part of their race training syllabus. Keep this regular so momentum remains.
9. Simple goals
– give the young sailors a goal to aim towards through their race training. Perhaps aiming to take part in a short regatta, Bart’s Bash, or to going to the Zone Championships are great goals to have. Make sure these are achievable and fun.
10. Next Steps
– once your young sailors are confident and competent racers, encourage them to think about getting involved in the RYA Squads. Speak to your High Performance Manager for more information. You can find their contact details here - RYA Youth & Junior Racing Who's Who