RYA Northern Ireland Coach Development Programme off to a flying start

Coach Development Programme begins with a fun filled day of team racing at Ballyholme Yacht Club
25 Jan 24
RYA Northern Ireland Coach Development Day Team Racing

The RYA Northern Ireland Coach Development Programme is officially up and running following its first session at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Saturday 20 January.

The programme is the first of its kind from RYA Northern Ireland, offering free training for coaches across the country to develop their skills to become national level race coaches.

This investment in the future of Northern Irish sailing is part of RYA Northern Ireland’s five-year strategy, Navigating The Future, where we aim to: Maximise athlete potential, Reimagine pathways, Improve diversity and Inspire people to give their time.

Great coaches are central to achieving these goals and developing the sport across a wider level.

Day one of the Coach Development Programme

On the first day of the Coach Development Programme, we ran a team racing workshop led by RYA Northern Ireland Marketing and Communications Executive, Peter Gilmore.

Those attending were taught about the rules of team racing and how to coach it at their clubs, including explanations of relevant drills and exercises.

After the on the water session, Jakub Ozarek from East Down Yacht Club said: “It was really good fun! You get through so much and there’s so many different interactions with other boats- it’s probably the most fun I’ve had racing in a good while.

“You’re using rules that you’ve never used in regular club or even competition racing, so there was genuinely so much that I learnt.

“Teamwork was essential. Quick tacks. Quick gybes. All the manoeuvres that you need to get into the right or out of the wrong.”

Members of the programme also received a safeguarding presentation from RYA Northern Ireland Lead Safeguarding Officer, Gayle Logan, highlighting our commitment to safe practice throughout any of our programmes.

Additionally, RYA Northern Ireland Performance Manager, Hammy Baker, taught members of the programme how to use RYA anti-doping resources. Hammy is the NI anti-doping lead, so sharing his knowledge with the wider pool of coaches aims to ensure that sailing in Northern Ireland remains clean and safe for all those involved.

RYA Northern Ireland’s Team Racing Programme

Currently Northern Ireland lacks an active team racing circuit, however as part of RYA Northern Ireland’s recently launched Project Theia, there are plans to develop this format of racing across the country.

Team racing is also a great way to engage women and girls in the sport, providing alternative forms of racing to those currently available. It also provides learning opportunities about the rules of sailing, helping to develop the standard of racing across the country.

Workforce Development Officer, Mary Martin said: “Team racing gives people another way to enjoy the sport. You can get a lot of people on the water with only a few boats, so you get a lot of ‘bang for your buck.’

“From a coaching point of view, team racing is an end in itself. You can do team racing for fun, but for general race training it’s a great way to get across rules and give sailors more confidence to be more aggressive in their own racing.”

Alongside equipping coaches with the skills to run team racing at their own clubs, the RYA Northern Ireland Team Racing Programme will offer coaching sessions to youth sailors throughout the coming year.

Our aim is to send an Under-19 team from Northern Ireland to the Elmo Cup at The Royal St George Yacht Club in August.

Applications to be part of this programme are due to open soon. For more details, please contact kate.pounder@rya.org.uk

You can also stay up to date with any developments from RYA Northern Ireland by subscribing to our bi-monthly newsletter.