RYA Midlands OnBoard Blog - May 2023

Sailing Development Officer Tom Davenport shares his OnBoard stories and tips for instructors...
16 May 23

Young OnBoard sailor in an Optimist training boat on the water.

Lots of clubs and centres saw an increase in demand last year, so it’s great to see the new season kicking off and it feels like we’ve hit the ground running!

This OnBoard blog is just one small way to help keep you thinking about moving your junior sailing fowards with tips, ideas and thoughts from people like you in the Midlands.

In this edition I’ll share from the teacher who didn’t care about gybing, how to ‘flying V’ a Pico and the future of visual aids, all in just a five minute read. Here we go...

‘I don’t care if they learn how to gybe!’

How do you get teachers’ attention when you’re selling your sailing to them? Over the winter I had a conversation with a teacher in Birmingham which has changed the way I think about how we market sailing to schools.

In our conversation I shared the character attributes that OnBoard Sailing sessions help young people to develop (just in case you need a reminder these are Teamwork, Determination, Communication, Independence, Confidence and Creativity). His response, without a second’s thought, was, ‘This is what we need! I don’t actually care if the kids learn to gybe or not!’ It wasn’t what I was expecting, so I asked him to explain.

This teacher knows about sailing and is sold on its benefits, but he regularly needs to communicate the benefits of sailing to other teachers in his school, primarily those who pay the bills! He explained that as teachers, character development is a large part of what schools need to demonstrate in their work.

So if we can show them how sailing improves these attributes in young people, it should be an easy sell because it ticks lots of boxes that both Senior Leadership Teams and Ofsted are looking for. Could you consider promoting sailing at your venue as a character development course, rather than a sailing course?

To help your instructors deliver this, the new beginner dinghy session cards have been updated to give you a model six sessions for beginners based on the character attributes. Could you consider using these to help run your OnBoard sessions this year? You can print off the pdf or get in touch with Hannah at RYA HQ for waterproof copies of these to give your team. If you’d like help training your instructors to runs sessions like this, give me a shout.

Group of four young sailors in OnBoard bibs chatting to an instructor on shore.

The ‘flying V’ in a Pico

On a recent instructor development day, one of the instructors ran a game that I’d never seen before. It’s called Formations and is based on an exercise we all know well – follow my leader. On a light wind day on the edge of the Peak District - the line of six Picos weighed down by the adult instructors trying to keep the boat flat, their slightly stiff knees as straight as possible and the sails filled - all lined up behind the powerboat as the whistle blew and the ‘follow me’ signal was given by the instructor.

Once we were in a line and sailing well, she shouted different shapes which would be the formations we had to get ourselves into. They included a square and a triangle, but my favourite was the flying V! It took much more thinking on my part than I had expected to get myself, with my fellow sailors, into the right formation and then sail together in that formation for as long as we could.

This is a great game that layers improving communication and close quarters boat handling at the same time, that I’ll definitely be using this season! I found out later that this game is in the OnBoard Sailing Games and Challenges resource on the RYA website – winner! Find this game and loads more here.

The future of visual aids?

Like any instructor worth their salt, I’m always on the look out for useful freebies, and the Regional Training Day at Rutland SC in March didn’t disappoint! Along with a load of other instructors in the right place at the right time, I managed to get my hands on some 3D printed boats, small enough to fit in the pocket of my buoyancy aid and useful enough to come out for most briefings!

These little beauties are from 3Dimensional Studio, but there are other companies making similar products. If you know of any share a link in the RYA Midlands Instructors Facebook Group. It’s probably a big leap to say these are the future of training aids but they are a very useful addition to my instructor toolkit. Why not consider getting a couple of sets for your instructors to use in their sessions?

3D pocket-sized printed boats made by 3Dimensional Studio for instructors to use for teaching.

Widening their horizons

The Regional Junior Champs is a great chance for your young sailors to see that there is a big wide world of sailing outside of your club. If they travel to Glossop SC - Windsurfers, Saturday 10th June - or the event for sailors at Rutland SC the following weekend, 17-18 June, they’ll be able to sail alongside other young people their age from around the region. The Rookie Fleet powered by OnBoard will have instructors on hand to provide games with aims for sailors not yet into racing, with all the fun of the big event! Book your sailors in here.

Thanks for reading my first Midlands OnBoard blog. If you’d like any help or support with OnBoard activity at your club or centre, please feel free to get in touch. And if you have any ideas or stories to share with other instructors in the Midlands, let me know and send them over as we’ll be releasing these blogs periodically through the year and I can include in future editions.

Happy sailing!