How to prevent kids getting bored with sailing?

CMcG

New member
I recently got involved in the sea scouts in my area. At the moment I'm basically tasked with making sure the younger kids 6-8 don't kill themselves on the water, but I was approached by a leader from the older section 16-19ish for help.
Apparently the older kids are getting bored with sailing and they need someone to come and assess their skill levels, and make sailing challenging and interesting again.
I was asked to do this because I used to teach sailing and I'm one of the few leaders with any sailing experience.
It's been a long time since I've taught sailing so I thought I'd put it up here to see what kind of suggestions people come up with.
I will be going down to assess their skills on Thursday evening so I'll have more information then.
Some of the fun ideas I have come up with off the top of my head were sailing without a rudder, sailing backwards and tricks like that, but they are only short term things. The main plan would be to get them racing which is always fun, and go on longer distance adventures.
Any other suggestions would be welcome. I have a chance here to retain a few kids in this sport that might otherwise drift away from it. I want to make the most of that chance.
 

Rambler

Anarchist
994
565
East Coast OZ
First of all, good on you for supporting the sport and the Scouts.
I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but have you considered more exciting boats such as skiffs.

I run a training group where I take non sailors (usually 20's and 3's year olds, but partly because of the demographics of our area where kids leave town when they leave school) and teach them to crew on twin trapeze skiffs https://www.facebook.com/Mr-Bond-The-Ballina-Skiff-Sail-Training-Group-110226546310465

It has an incredibly high retention rate compared with any other training/ teahing approach I've been involved in and even among those who leave, it is usually because they have left town (a small coastal town in a holiday resort area with many AUstralian and international transient workers). And the greater majority are women.

Now there are those who debate my passion for this type of approach [ see this thread https://forums.sailinganarchy.com/threads/australian-skiffs.235502/ ]
But, the bottom line is it works.

Now I realise with the Scouts, budgets are an issue, but certainly in the UK (so not sure about Ireland) there are enough Cherubs and different version of RS 'skiffs' about I would hope you can find something second hand at a reasonable price.

One issue is, I usually train them from within the boat - one or two at a time - and there is no doubt a confident and competent trainer gives them the chance to be confident as they learn the trapeze and spinnaker work.

But if you show them videos like these (three professionally made short videos taken at a Australian Cherub Championship a few years ago), you'll have them wanting more.

The sailors here (as you can see from the videos) start at about 14 and 19 would be a pretty common age, but they go all the way up to 60. Note the number of female sailors and mixed crews (and even a few dads sailing with daughters)



 

CMcG

New member
Good idea. It's been a long time since I was out on a trapeze, this could be a good excuse to get back at it. I'll have to see what kind of level they are at, but it would be good to plan ahead and try to source something now anyway. Not many 2nd hand trapeze boats come up here, but something might. I'll put the word out and see what I can find.
 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
41,126
8,069
Eastern NC
I recently got involved in the sea scouts in my area. At the moment I'm basically tasked with making sure the younger kids 6-8 don't kill themselves on the water, but I was approached by a leader from the older section 16-19ish for help.
Apparently the older kids are getting bored with sailing and they need someone to come and assess their skill levels, and make sailing challenging and interesting again.
I was asked to do this because I used to teach sailing and I'm one of the few leaders with any sailing experience.
It's been a long time since I've taught sailing so I thought I'd put it up here to see what kind of suggestions people come up with.
I will be going down to assess their skills on Thursday evening so I'll have more information then.
Some of the fun ideas I have come up with off the top of my head were sailing without a rudder, sailing backwards and tricks like that, but they are only short term things. The main plan would be to get them racing which is always fun, and go on longer distance adventures.
Any other suggestions would be welcome. I have a chance here to retain a few kids in this sport that might otherwise drift away from it. I want to make the most of that chance.

All good moves except going down the track of "racing is fun."
Racing is not fun. This generation is not in touch with the ideals of sportsmanship. Racing will be fun for the kid who wins and the rest will hate it... UNLESS you have some way connecting the specific skills you see that they need, to a specific exercise that they can do as a cooperative (not competitive) group.

The kids that I work with enjoy a very simple exercise in which they play follow-the-leader and I call out what i want them to do... heel over as far as you can, tack on the whistle (with whistle intervals coming at shorter and shorter and eventually impossible short intervals), do circles around a set of buoys being required to touch each one, or stop at a specific one.

We have a couple of games where there are winners but these are usually very short and the winner is not always the same kid. For example, boxing each other out... I set a square of buoys and they use the right-of-way rules to try and force each other out of the box. Once they get the hang of it, I tow the buoys closer and closer together to make the box smaller and smaller. We also play a game with teams and nerf balls, a couple different ways to set this up.

This kind of thing -really- tightens up the boat handling skills, especially in heavy air. In light air, I will let them use kinetics and sculling etc etc to do figure-eights around two buoys, or following me (baby ducks) then at the whistle, no kinetics allowed.

Be imaginative. Put the kids to work thinking up sailing games that will test varying skills. But unless they WANT to race, don't force them.
 

CMcG

New member
That's a fair point about the racing. I hadn't thought about it like that. I just know I learned so much from racing and loved racing that I just assumed that that would be a good approach. I suppose I'll have to see what way the kids feel about it and work from there.
I've been thinking about one form of race though that guarantees that everyone wins at some stage. Have a series of races and the losing boat gets to remove one item from the winning boat each race. My thinking is that things break on boats all the time, and learning to work through that is vital. It would also be fun for the kids trying to race missing things like rudders or hiking straps. It's highly doubtful that the same boat would win more than once.
 

Meat Wad

Super Anarchist
Either you like it and continue or you don't.
I am the only sibiling of 6 that took to the sport in a life long way.
Trying all aspects of it Dinghy, Mono (keel), Multi, Board and Land sailing.

You either Like / Love it or you move on. Oh and you can afford it too.
 

slug zitski

Super Anarchist
5,070
805
worldwide
Either you like it and continue or you don't.
I am the only sibiling of 6 that took to the sport in a life long way.
Trying all aspects of it Dinghy, Mono (keel), Multi, Board and Land sailing.

You either Like / Love it or you move on. Oh and you can afford it too.
Yup

some kids like sailing, some kids like fishing, some kids like basketball…..

no use forcing the issue
 

CMcG

New member
I don't think its a case of them not liking it. By all accounts they like it, but just don't really know what to do next. They go out and there is no structure to their learning at the moment and they don't really know what to do. My task is to make it more interesting for them and provide a bit of structured learning. I have to come up with ideas that will keep them entertained and eager to learn more and not just drift away from sailing.
 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
41,126
8,069
Eastern NC
I don't think its a case of them not liking it. By all accounts they like it, but just don't really know what to do next. They go out and there is no structure to their learning at the moment and they don't really know what to do. My task is to make it more interesting for them and provide a bit of structured learning. I have to come up with ideas that will keep them entertained and eager to learn more and not just drift away from sailing.

Just "sailing for fun" is great, once they get up to a level where they can do so safely.

What specific skills do you want them to improve? Many drills or games are related to racing, some are not. I like to challenge them with stopping under increasingly difficult situations, because just like landing a plane there's no such thing as being too good at stopping.

One game that I found helped them all-round was to pass a ball between boats as they sailed to an upwind goal. This could be pairs or teams of three or more, depending. Everybody starts at leeward buoy, each team gets a ball, when you blow the whistle they HAVE to throw the ball. Balls floating loose can be grabbed by the other team but still have to be thrown on the whistle. You score when you carry the ball in between two upwind buoys set as a gate. You can have boundary marks or not, declare 720s, obviously all right-of-way rules must be scrupulously observed and this adds to the fun too.
 

CMcG

New member
That sounds like a fun game. Anything that makes it fun should help.
I'm not sure what areas they need improvement yet. I was meant to go and assess them last Thursday, but there was zero wind so sailing was cancelled. Hopefully I'll get to see them tomorrow. I'll have a chat with them and see where their strengths and weaknesses are. I should be able to make a plan then.
 

Marty Gingras

Mid-range Anarchist
Being a good teammate can be a very compelling reason to continue and improve. As a good recreational volleyball player during college, a favorite competition was that 2-person teams with rotating membership would compete and both players on a winning team would score an individual point. At the end of the day, everyone would have teamed with everyone else once (or given time, twice) and the individual with the most points won the tournament. That could work in sailing.
 

Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
41,126
8,069
Eastern NC
That sounds like a fun game. Anything that makes it fun should help.
I'm not sure what areas they need improvement yet. I was meant to go and assess them last Thursday, but there was zero wind so sailing was cancelled. Hopefully I'll get to see them tomorrow. I'll have a chat with them and see where their strengths and weaknesses are. I should be able to make a plan then.

It also works to just ask 'em! Sitting and shooting the bull with young sailors is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. I encourage (by listening attentively) them to tell their fledgling "sea stories" too; they'll acquire bigger better ones in time.
 
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