Stan Chick spent idyllic summers getting OnBoard at Mylor Sailing and Powerboat School while on holiday at his grandparents' home in Cornwall.
This summer, he captained the Kent School Sailing Association (KSSA) to their fourth successive NSSA National Youth Regatta crown while also himself winning the Laser Standard and Medium Handicap Fleet titles.
Now 18, Stan qualified as an RYA Dinghy Instructor at Mylor last summer, and is delighted to be passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm to OnBoarders at Mylor and other young sailors at his home club of Broadstairs SC in Kent. Let's meet him ☺
Hi Stan! You certainly sound like you got bitten by the bug in Cornwall. How did it start for you?
I've been visiting Cornwall my whole life. My grandparents live in a tiny village called Flushing, just across the river from Falmouth, and it's beautiful. Apparently my grandfather built a cot for me on his yacht! We would always sail around the Carrick Roads and South Cornwall and sometimes I'd even be allowed to steer! I had also helped my Dad build a Mirror when I was super young too; we'd take it out racing at Broadstairs most weekends. I don't think we did very well but I really loved it.
So what was it like when you had your first proper OnBoard lessons at Mylor?
I was nine and just really enjoyed how fun the lessons were; I loved how much emphasis there was on just enjoying being on the water. I made some really great friends on the first morning and I still hang out with some of these guys when I'm down in Cornwall. I really wanted to learn so I could go out sailing in Broadstairs.
And did you?
Yes! I started getting involved with the KSSA, which is one of the most amazing things I've ever been part of, borrowing a Topper and going to all the training events. Eventually I bought my own Topper and started to do some racing on the South East Topper circuit and was part of the RYA South East Topper squad for two years.
But your love affair with Mylor continued?
I went back most summers and then started volunteering because I wanted to give back and help out with something I'd loved so much. I'd do anything and everything, working with all sorts of boats, people and conditions! This just made it more fun.
Is that what made you want to become a Dinghy Instructor?
I was at a point where I wanted to start giving back. Sailing has given me some really amazing experiences and opportunities. The people I've met through sailing have changed my life, and some of the things I've done and opportunities I've had have been amazing too. I was Eric Twiname South East Topper champion, South East Topper Traveller champion, and also enjoyed success racing Toppers at national level. Then there's been my KSSA experience, including winning the NSSA Inlands and topped off with what we achieved both as a team and personally this summer.
You had a very positive experience learning to sail. What do you take from that and use as an instructor now?
The biggest thing is remembering how I felt when I was learning. It's weird thinking that 10 years ago I was being taught myself in the same water! Hopefully some of these kids might go on and get even more out of sailing than I have. Sailing, and more so teaching, have made me much more confident and outgoing, which have helped my ability to communicate and articulate instructions and ideas to kids.
How have the life skills you've developed through sailing helped you off the water?
Being confident and outgoing is beneficial in all walks of life. For example, I just started studying for an Art and Design Foundation course, which involves regular critique sessions where I present my work to a large group of tutors and students.
Something else that's been really important in everyday life and my creative work is problem solving. If something on the boat breaks, or something goes wrong when I'm teaching, or if a project doesn't work one day before hand-in, being able to step back, analyse the problem and fix it is really useful. It's saved me from many bad situations!
So what's next?
I'm doing some coaching work with the KSSA team, volunteering as an instructor at Broadstairs, and working for Mylor, basically trying to help out everybody who helped me get to where I am now. In my own personal sailing, I'd love to get more involved in big boat racing. I competed in Falmouth week and have some friends who race on the big ocean yachts - this kind of thing would be amazing!
But you will never forget where it all started?
No way. From my friends who I've sailed with and learnt so much from, the KSSA guys who gave me so many great opportunities through racing and coaching, including funding to get my Race Coach L2, everybody at Broadstairs SC for being super supportive, Tracey Boyne and all the guys at Mylor for being so great, especially in my first season teaching, and my family who have done so much, I really couldn't have done any of this without every one of them. I'm incredibly grateful.