"Don't touch anything, let them do it (not easy)"...racing with young teens

DarthSailor

Super Anarchist
1,351
366
I taught sailing for about 20+ years and the idea of racing being counter productive to learning to sail has some merit. I think it works for juniors that have racing events available a couple of times a month in the season. After basic sailing the move to non-single handed boats mixing kids with different experience levels helps. With older kids and adults learning for the first time racing is not the best way to teach/practice in my opinion. A buoy or mark can help for practicing maneuvers or to have a goal to reach. If the students were older standing where I could impede the tiller if they were turning the wrong way allowed me to provide feedback without telling them what to do constantly. It is very hard to take a novice sailor and ask them to learn to sail and learn to think about a race course at the same time. It's those cement beaches you got there that make the cop so bad.
 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
45,581
10,272
Eastern NC
.
I taught sailing for about 20+ years and the idea of racing being counter productive to learning to sail has some merit. I think it works for juniors that have racing events available a couple of times a month in the season. After basic sailing the move to non-single handed boats mixing kids with different experience levels helps. With older kids and adults learning for the first time racing is not the best way to teach/practice in my opinion. A buoy or mark can help for practicing maneuvers or to have a goal to reach. If the students were older standing where I could impede the tiller if they were turning the wrong way allowed me to provide feedback without telling them what to do constantly. It is very hard to take a novice sailor and ask them to learn to sail and learn to think about a race course at the same time. It's those cement beaches you got there that make the cop so bad.

Part of my reaction to this is having to deal with so-o many parents that are cocksure "the only way to learn to sail well is to RACE!" and often they would feel that I'm not yelling at the kids enough, either.

But buoys, definitely yes. I use a lot of buoys in a lot of exercises, including for beginners. It gives them a target to steer for and helps them orient to how the boat is moving. For raw beginners, I'll set two buoys on a beam reach from each other, and tell them to sail from one to the other ... or set one buoy and hold my coach boat at a beam reach to it, tell them to sail to the buoy then back to me.

I also like to teach beginners to STOP. The buoys obviously make a great learning aid for this.

Another great exercise, in fact I use this for "graduation exam" for beginners in some classes, set a circle of buoys. Usually five or six, I don't have all that many but you need more than just 3. They sail around the circle, for a slightly more difficult exercise make them touch each one as they go around. This is for when they have learned to sort-of make the boat go upwind-ish, can sort of tack, and know the basic points of sail and you can trust them gybing (I am fussy about making them use good gybing technique from the very beginning, so that they will not be traumatized later).

To sail around the circle, they need to do everything. And you can throw right-of-way practice at them while they do it. And you can also make them STOP at any buoy, on demand.

This is a great way to handle a mixed crowd of almost-raw beginners and low-intermediate sailors, and not have to go zooming all around the bay chasing them. In fact you can just hang out in the middle of the circle, or at the point they will need to tack if that is troubling them; etc etc
 

Howler

Member
273
252
My club is a family club.. We have a sailing school, run by the club, the kids (8 years old +) want to go sailing with their mates.. The parents come down to bring them, they get bored waiting and then learn to sail themselves through the club..
That's how it's supposed to be.
The stark alternative is the Opti parents who don't themselves have an ounce of passion for sailing, showing up with $30,000 worth of gear and a truckload of high-pressured expectations because being on the sailing team when their kid is nine is going to get him or her into a top college 10 years later.
 

DarthSailor

Super Anarchist
1,351
366
.


Part of my reaction to this is having to deal with so-o many parents that are cocksure "the only way to learn to sail well is to RACE!" and often they would feel that I'm not yelling at the kids enough, either.

But buoys, definitely yes. I use a lot of buoys in a lot of exercises, including for beginners. It gives them a target to steer for and helps them orient to how the boat is moving. For raw beginners, I'll set two buoys on a beam reach from each other, and tell them to sail from one to the other ... or set one buoy and hold my coach boat at a beam reach to it, tell them to sail to the buoy then back to me.

I also like to teach beginners to STOP. The buoys obviously make a great learning aid for this.

Another great exercise, in fact I use this for "graduation exam" for beginners in some classes, set a circle of buoys. Usually five or six, I don't have all that many but you need more than just 3. They sail around the circle, for a slightly more difficult exercise make them touch each one as they go around. This is for when they have learned to sort-of make the boat go upwind-ish, can sort of tack, and know the basic points of sail and you can trust them gybing (I am fussy about making them use good gybing technique from the very beginning, so that they will not be traumatized later).

To sail around the circle, they need to do everything. And you can throw right-of-way practice at them while they do it. And you can also make them STOP at any buoy, on demand.

This is a great way to handle a mixed crowd of almost-raw beginners and low-intermediate sailors, and not have to go zooming all around the bay chasing them. In fact you can just hang out in the middle of the circle, or at the point they will need to tack if that is troubling them; etc etc
It also has a lot to do with your location that you are teaching in, lakes you can have students head for a set of trees or a house on shore. I taught in Dallas, North Shore of Pontchartrain and Long Island Sound and have used houses, bridges, trees, smokestacks etc. as sailing goals. Having a mix of levels with the kids always helps as it lets older kids get a feel for being in charge and lets the younger kids learn from kids as well as the instructor. I am talking about the 6 to 12 year old group, after that they would graduate to a laser or other more technical boat. I never really had to deal with the opti-terrorists as those were more popular after my time as a junior instructor. I did adult lessons on Cal 20's then J-22's and my go to test/practice as they neared completion was to make them sail through the marina. It had docks and a crescent shaped breakwater so sailing one entrance to the other and back would entail all points of sail and maintaining speed while having to short tack and avoid unmoving objects. Once they did that you could see them actually begin to believe they could do this.
 

nolatom

Super Anarchist
3,689
702
New Orleans
I too prefer giving sailing lessons closer to shore or island, or anything that isn't "just water for as far as the eye can see". It gives them a better sense of their own motion and boatspeed to compare themselves to, instead of just tacking or jibing from "big water" to "more big water" with no landmarks (except the racing mark buoys, which are useful).

And if we have time and breeze, I'll have us sail out of and later back into the marina (big one with wide aisles, and three 90-degree course changes in order to get to or from the Lake to our slips), so we can really see our progress.

That way everything they do to aim and steer the boat, or to alter course one way or the other, or tack or jibe, is done for a very real and visible, and demonstrable purpose, that they can see, compare themselves with, and if necessary get close to, the dock slips and boats in them) in the course of getting yourself toward where we're going.

And, once we're "outside", there's nothing really to look at except Lakeshore Drive to the south, and water, water, and more water, to the east, north, and west (there is a Causeway bridge though, which helps as a landmark).

So I'll try to keep them fairly close to the Lakeshore Drive shoreline absent a reason not to, they can see themselves make progress compared to that seawall, levee, lampposts, and cars, whether it's beat, reach, or run depending on breeze. It makes all the course and sail-trim changes, more "real".


Plus, it makes the car folks parked or driving and looking out at the Lake, jealous. ;-)
 
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DarthSailor

Super Anarchist
1,351
366
I too prefer giving sailing lessons closer to shore or island, or anything that isn't "just water for as far as the eye can see". It gives them a better sense of their own motion and boatspeed to compare themselves to, instead of just tacking or jibing from "big water" to "more big water" with no landmarks (except the racing mark buoys, which are useful).

And if we have time and breeze, I'll have us sail out of and later back into the marina (big one with wide aisles, and three 90-degree course changes in order to get to or from the Lake to our slips), so we can really see our progress.

That way everything they do to aim and steer the boat, or to alter course one way or the other, or tack or jibe, is done for a very real and visible, and demonstrable purpose, that they can see, compare themselves with, and if necessary get close to, the dock slips and boats in them) in the course of getting yourself toward where we're going.

And, once we're "outside", there's nothing really to look at except Lakeshore Drive to the south, and water, water, and more water, to the east, north, and west (there is a Causeway bridge though, which helps as a landmark).

So I'll try to keep them fairly close to the Lakeshore Drive shoreline absent a reason not to, they can see themselves make progress compared to that seawall, levee, lampposts, and cars, whether it's beat, reach, or run depending on breeze. It makes all the course and sail-trim changes, more "real".


Plus, it makes the car folks parked or driving and looking out at the Lake, jealous. ;-)
I spent a lot of time teaching about 24 miles north of there, there are these concrete pilings that are placed across the lake marking a gas pipeline I think, anyway there is one just outside Mandeville harbor maybe a 1/2 mile out this was the area that we had our classes. two kids per sunfish at the time, regardless of the class, age or student someone would always hit this piling. I drove me crazy a lake that is 60 miles by 24 miles and the kids would invariably hit a 2' by 2' concrete post. we didn't even use it as a mark we used hippity hops tied to small mushroom anchor. Always straight in bow on impact thankfully there is no wind on pontchartrain in the summer (or really anytime) so it was always a slow speed crash, but FML every damn class it would get hit.


I think that is a link to it, apologies if it doesn't work
 


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