The RYA Scotland Giant Academy is a new event aimed at young sailors in the junior and youth classes, designed to encourage sailors of all racing abilities onto the water and beyond. The 2023 Giant Academy took place over at Largs Sailing Club on the 30th September / 1st October.
The event brought 85 sailors in Optimist, Topper, Techno293, Feva, ILCA, 29er and IQ Foil classes together for a race coaching weekend on the Clyde. It also provided the opportunity to bring parents together to explain more about the RYA Scotland performance programmes, with input from class association volunteers, the Scottish Institute of Sport, Race Officials, and other parents’ experiences.
"We wanted to launch our winter programme with a multi strand event with a core theme of setting expectations within the performance pathway and providing a united front to the community of youth and junior sailing. We certainly felt the event was a success on and off the water, with reports of lots of happy faces and engaged parents." Commented Robin Nicol who is heading up the Academy programme this winter.
On the water activity was coach led for the sailors with 18 race coaches coordinating the training across the classes.
“The weekend gave a great opportunity for the coaching team to get to know each other as a wider team before the winter training block, develop their skills and teamwork as a training event of this scale to meet and engage with their sailors to kickstart the winter. We also had some mentoring going on to allow younger coaches to progress.” Said Robyn Phillips, from the RYA Scotland Coach Education perspective.
Ashore the parents were provided updates on the coming winter training prior to a series of workshops to set up for the winter.
“Newer parents were given a warm welcome to the winter programme and chance to meet class reps and ask those "silly" questions in the shoreside workshops. It can often be a daunting process to start accessing race training around Scotland and we hope this helped!” Highlights Robyn.
Jennie Roberts, of the British Sailing Squad was the IQ Foil coach. We had some great sessions afloat and getting to know all the team, as I had not met them before to assess the progress we are about to make. I sail IQ foil myself and I enjoy coaching younger sailors to see how quickly they progress, I like that. You can go from not being able to Gybe to foiling gybes very quickly with this group.”
Optimist sailor, Leon (9), said. “I have come to pick up some new skills in my boat. I have learnt about sailing upwind, sailing round marks, and doing starts. I like going fast and capsizing!”
Twins, Ellie and Georgia McCalman said, “We are sailing a 29er this weekend and it’s been really good, we have done lots of swimming though. We want to get more experience in the boat and to try not swimming as much. Our coach was really helpful, and we feel we have learnt loads this weekend.”
Lotte Kohn was sailing her Topper at the Giant Academy and said “It’s been good, we’ve had some really good coaching, the wind picked up towards the end, which was really exciting and there was some capsizing, especially as we were running round the front of the mast!. I am looking forward to the winter Academies to improve my sailing to get into the Performance Team next winter.”
Ally Young highlights the benefits of the programme and notes. “The Academies are a really good way to get young sailors into the pathway classes and give them strong, well support coach training right from the beginning of their sailing career. Also gives them a chance to make new friends, meet new coaches and to visit a range of clubs around the country, overall it’s a really worthwhile programme.”
There are lots of opportunities to get involved, make new friends, have fun and hone your skills this winter and further details can be found here.