Sailing Advice for Young Beginners
Are you keen to get your young children on the water? If you've checked the club calendar, you'll have noticed that besides the usual Junior Week there are several blocks of "RYA training" days in the diary. The great news is that the club is now an RYA accredited training centre. This means we can run RYA training courses and take children from complete beginner potentially through to any level of sailing ability. Historically, the club's junior events have required children to be already capable of sailing before being able to participate. Being able to teach beginners is a big change that should hopefully allow the club to become even more focused on getting a new generation engaged with sailing.
We have a new, experienced senior instructor on board and the plan is to run three RYA courses in July and August for RYA stages 1-4. Please check the club website for more information.
After School Sailing
For those of you who are local to the club, you'll see that there's also a programme of after school sailing during the week. This will be aimed at mixed ability groups of local children and run in Toppers, Fevas and Optimists (see below). We are hoping as many of your children as possible can participate in this. I've got two girls of 7 and 9 who I'm hoping will do at least two of the courses and I'm hoping to be around to help out. Running courses for young beginners is obviously more demanding for the instructor team, so for those of you who are interested in your child participating, it'd be great if as many of us as possible could help out with at least some of the on and off the water activity.
Sport England Grant/Optimists
In parallel, the club has submitted an application for another Sport England grant to acquire training boats. Last year we were lucky enough to be awarded a grant to buy the RS Fevas. This year, if awarded the grant, the club is hoping to buy six Optimists (or actually a robust training version of the Optimist dinghy). For those of you not familiar, the Optimist is the go-to single-handed dinghy for younger and smaller sailors. In our exposed location, anyone under about 40-45kg should probably be sailing an Oppie (or similar) rather than a Topper or Laser. Generally kids at West Wittering have started in Toppers but for the smaller and younger sailors this has meant doubling up (not ideal for teaching) or frankly hoping for a quieter week. With Oppies we can probably start kids quite a bit younger: perhaps from 7 years old rather than 10 and worry less about windier days.
Even if we are unsuccessful with the Sport England grant, I'm very keen to get a cohort of parents into the idea of their children learning in (and maybe ultimately racing in) Optimists at the club. The Optimist is not just a great learning boat but also a great racing boat. 85% of the medal winners at London 2012 started in an Oppie. And, especially if your child is relatively slight, it's going to be a more suitable sized boat for them to handle on their own at WWSC and potentially race competitively all the way up to 13, 14 or even 15 years old. The Optimist is also relatively simple to own and unless a top boat is required for racing at a high level, relatively inexpensive to own too. We don't have many children racing frequently at West Wittering and the relatively exposed conditions and lack of a suitable small boat class may be part of the reason. For the long-term health and vitality of the club, it'd be great if we had more children really getting into sailing which ultimately means we need to get them racing. If you are interested to know more about your children participating in these courses and potentially being part of setting up an active group of Optimist owners, please contact me at email@example.com for more information.
Last updated 08:54 on 28 September 2018