From OnBoarder to aspiring Instructor

How Covid-19 lockdowns motivated young people to become Instructors

As Covid-19 restrictions gradually eased and we returned to the water, many clubs and centers reported an increase in the number of young people wanting to learn to sail, as well as those wanting to develop skills and train to become Assistant Instructors (AI’s) *or Dinghy Instructors (DIs).

Hester Walker, RYA Cymru Wales’ West Wales Club Development Officer, realised that this presented a unique opportunity, and working with two OnBoard clubs set about launching the very first Covid compliant, Discover Coaching Training in Wales.

As Hestor explains: “The Discover Coaching Training is a fantastic way of engaging and retaining young people in the sport of sailing. It is great to see that young sailors are keen to learn how to instruct so that they can introduce more people to sailing.”

Eight enthusiastic 14 to 17 year olds from Neyland Yacht Club and Tenby Sailing Club took part in the first Training session in early April 2021. The weather conditions of snow and a biting cold wind didn’t dampen the youngsters’ spirits, some of whom hadn’t sailed for 18 months. The fun and relaxed session brought smiles to faces and covered What makes a good Instructor as well as What might a good safe, session look like?

Some of the youngsters attended OnBoard sessions when younger and are now looking forward to continuing their journey to become AI’s and DI’s.

As Yasmin commented: “I’ve been sailing since I was young and it’s great for keeping me fit, making new friends, and it’s fun! The course has been amazing, and I’ve already taken a small group of Stage 1 children out, under supervision, and really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to do more of this”.

The OnBoard Impact report identified that through learning to sail youngsters develop a wide range of key skills - including confidence and independence - important attributes which put young people in good stead to become excellent Instructors.

As Hestor adds: “We could tell that the group were inspired and kept asking for more information – it was amazingly positive and brilliant to see after what’s been a really difficult last year.

“This will really strengthen their club’s training team whilst they work towards achieving their instructor qualifications.”

Covid-19 secure

The training session complied to relevant Covid-19 measures, which included asking each attendee not to attend if they showed any symptoms, and always remembering the 2 metre rule when outside. Toilets were available but no changing facilities, therefore the group arrives suited and booted with their sailing kit, food and drink, a face mask and pen – ready for action.

What’s next

As the Discover Coaching Training progresses over the coming months, participants’ sailing skills will develop as the youngsters enjoy sessions including: introducing powerboat skills, onshore skills such as land drills, rigging and tuning, plus basic discussions around being a DI/AI.

An AI course typically requires around 20 hours teaching, covering basic teaching principles, centre procedures and specific training in any unfamiliar equipment.

“We will also be using OnBoard resources when we can, and all of this will of course take place whilst having FUN!” said Hester 

The final word belongs to Yasmin: “I’d encourage young people to get involved in sailing. You don’t need to own a boat to take part, just join your local club and have fun!”

For more information about how youngsters can become Instructors visit: