Sailing Instructor Development Course Blog; Rees Evans

With the help of our supportive sponsors and Grenada Sailing Association Youth Sailing Programme care takers, a team of four youth sailors were able to travel 75 nautical miles south to Trinidad. The objective of the trip was to help develop our sailing instruction skill sets by working alongside the Trinidadian instructors so that we could in turn develop our teaching styles displayed at our respective sailing clubs home in Grenada.

Our course ran throughout the week April 4th to the 8th. Each instructor was placed into a different group by Earl, head coach at TTSA sailing school. The week of instruction began on Monday however, the actual classes inclusive of children, did not commence until Tuesday.

Monday we were given a briefing as to what our course entailed, and what we would be doing through the period. This briefing was followed up by a series of small races whereby the Grenadian and Trinidadian instructors challenged one another sailing the 420 sailboat, guided by Earl’s well informed instruction. Soon after, we returned to shore de-rigged our boats and were then debriefed by Earl.

Tuesday, our first actual day of instruction had begun. After enjoying a fresh batch of local doubles we were eager to begin our day and experience whatever lay ahead. I was placed into the advanced Optimist training class. Here I was able to work very closely with Steven, the assigned Trinidadian instructor for that class, we began promptly at 9 am with a general briefing, which outlined our planned activities for that day. I, much like the kids, was eager to begin. We shared the same vibrancy and it is that positive energy that has allowed me to enjoy coaching as much as I do today. This class commonly referred to as the racing class was primarily occupied by children who could already sail so our objective as instructors was to develop their skills in the area of racing. After our briefing, we rigged up the boats to be used for the day and we headed on the water to carry out our set objectives, some which included sail controls, boat handling and situational awareness. We had a morning session, broke off for lunch, followed by an evening session, each lasting approximately 2 hours, before returning to shore to derig the boats and debrief the kids on the day’s activities assessing their strengths weakness and channels for improvement.

On Wednesday my group had our morning session with the kids, training them in real time on how they could perfect their race starts during regattas. The kids were given five minute start sequences leading up to the start of the race. This activity was continued after lunch and was followed by a debrief on the activity assessing their strengths weakness and channels for improvement for this particular activity.

Thursday, I was given an opportunity to work along with the 420 sailboat class instructors. The objectives set out for the day included the perfection of tacks and gybes with use of proper rudder control, body weight and the jib. Although the winds were heavy, causing choppy swells commonly known as white-caps the kids were still eager to carry on with their lesson and experience the swells. After a good soaking, we all returned to shore to derig and debrief the kids. Later on in the evening, the Grenadian and Trinidadian instructors took out the same 420’s, challenging each other in the bay for some good old fun and bragging rights.

Friday the most unfortunate day, solely due to the fact that it was the last day of the course, I had returned to the Optimist racing class. Our objectives set for the morning session encompassed all of the aims and objectives which were taught, practiced and perfected throughout the week. The kids were given a miniature Olympic race course to complete using the start flags (class and P flags) to orchestrate the start sequence. Straightaway, I was able to spot a significant improvement in each student’s boat handling and situational awareness skills whilst races were being done. I also noticed that their ability to plan ahead, navigating effectively for a more efficient race depicted a solid improvement as compared to the day of training on Tuesday.

Each student’s constant thirst for added knowledge, firm passion and drive for perfection, was the highlight of my trip, giving great motivation to carry on my teachings as a Sailing Instructor to the best of my ability. With the continued support of our existing and potential sponsors as well as a continued collaboration amongst the Grenada Sailing Association, Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Academy and both sets of our vibrant sailing instructors, I can only envision the development of youth sailing throughout both territories to grow relentlessly and achieve heightened sustainability for generations to come.