Learn to Sail programme part of push to reviatlise Northland sailing
A push is being made to revitalise sailing in the Whangarei area and local clubs came together recently to run a successful Yachting New Zealand Learn to Sail (dinghy) coach course at Parua Bay.
The Sail Northland Charitable Trust was created recently to help drive the programme and plans are in place to offer sailing courses with local schools in the hope of increasing interest in sailing, club membership and more entries in the college teams racing regattas.
Yachting New Zealand have leant two Topper Omegas to the trust and they were ideal for the recent learn to sail coaching course. As many as 11 would-be coaches attended the weekend course, the largest intake for some time, and they covered aspects such as sailing, coaching styles RIB driving and onshore teaching.
The wide range of ages and different abilities and experience was a real asset as all the sailors had different specialities and ideas to offer in the supportive environment.
The younger sailors were more competent in the dinghies and were excellent at helping some of the experienced older sailors to come to grips with dinghy sailing. Even hip replacements did not stop people having a go in the dinghies, although the weather was occasionally a bit boisterous. Off the water, the older sailors were generally better at delivering on-shore lessons.
The coaching course neatly overlapped a Northland Yachting Association regatta on the Sunday, meaning the aspiring coaches could put of their recently-acquired skills to good use.
There was a good turnout of all ages in a variety of boats, including eight trailer sailors and a number of dinghies. One family even had mum and two kids all sailing Starlings - dad usually sails a Starling but was away.
The ‘larger’ boat fleet included Lasers, Europe, 420s and an Omega with sailors aged from 8–9 to Laser masters. This is the opposite end to the very focused full-on one-design ‘proper’ races which are considered more important but there is a need for both types of sailing to be catered for to retain our numbers.
"The extra trained coaches will be invaluable," said Alan Clarkson, who was instrumental in the establishment of the programme. "We were pleased to have five teenagers on the coaching course as they are an integral part of the learn to sail programme. The younger ones relate to [new sailors] better than us grey beards."
Clarkson hopes to run junior and adult learn to sail courses, as well as advanced junior sailing, advanced ladies (probably in trailer sailors), two high school sailing and a team sailing programme.