January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Barbara McVeigh was, for a time, the Communications/Outreach Director at one of the most innovative community sailing centers I’m aware of, a place call Sailing Education Adventures, in Marin, California.
We’ve been emailing back and forth for years about how SEA links sailing and experiential learning. I’ve been impressed by the organization’s fearless nature- and science-based curriculum, a distant outlier among community and sailing programs that typically focus on skills or racing.
And I was concerned to learn in early 2014 that Barbara was moving onto a new career: independent documentary filmmaking, and that her contributions at SEA were coming to an end.
Instead, Barb upped the ante. She’s challenging everyone who teaches and advocates for sailing to think much bigger.
Her short film “Racing with Copepods,” directed by Carlos Grana, and featuring Kimball Livingston as narrator, begins like any intro to a sailing program with dock talk and PFDs. But soon, the shackles binding conventional thinking come off, and we’re watching kids blast across San Francisco Bay aboard planing dinghies on a destination adventure to collect beach samples and dig in mud. Then they’re casting nets off the transom of an ocean-going research sailboat to collect and study microscopic organisms with scientists as crew-mates. Eventually, the kids explain the links between the Copepods – tiny speedy jumping swimmers – and themselves. They share the water. And the water, therefore, deserves our care.
It’s not a new story that sailing is a great platform for teaching and learning things like leadership, character and inquisitiveness. What’s new is that the connections made to and from sailing by creative mentors like Barbara are limitless. Almost anything you want to learn, you can learn through sailing. And almost anything you want to teach, you can teach through sailing. The key is to make the environment for mentoring. Then, sailing doesn’t need saving. It does the saving.
October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve sailed with a few yellers, but only one time each. Here’s how a yeller can kick the habit. See page 58 in this month’s Spinsheet Magazine.
September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
There are competing philosophies at sailing schools. Some teach almost exclusively through racing, while others reject racing altogether. Only a few straddle a racing middle ground. Advocates on either side are entrenched.
Racing-focused schools tend to be led by sailors who see a world in which competition frames everything: career, culture, success, leadership and new ideas. Racing happens to be a fun way to learn—until it’s not—and then the losers inevitably leave. Schools like this depend on a numbers game.
Schools that avoid racing tend to be led by sailors who see a world in which competition is unnecessarily exclusive and limiting, especially when it is focused on young people. Losing can hurt, so these schools try to prevent people from feeling loss. These schools depend on a critical mass of annual donors to stay afloat to counter high transience.
Perhaps the problem isn’t the racing, per say, but how we adults define competition.
Read more in Sailing Magazine.
August 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
Who among us doesn’t know a dude like this: a sailing friend with a drinking problem who doubles as a drinking friend with a sailing problem?
Much drinking goes unnoticed by many of us sailors. Perhaps it’s time we noticed. Read how and why in the September 2014 issue of Spinsheet Magazine…
July 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Undoubtedly, the most popular small boat sailing gadget today is the tiny, light, gasket-sealed digital movie camera, which has sailors worldwide starring in their own homemade YouTube and Vimeo hits, like the one from which this screenshot was taken. It might seem, at first blush, as if the digital movie camera is one dimensional and might not have the same utility as the powerful racing and navigational computers found on big boats. But I’ve come to think that videos may be far more important to sailing in the long run. In fact, camera technology is helping to fuel a sailing revolution where real, up-close experiences matter and where contagious, authentic enthusiasm for the sport can go viral anywhere in the world.
Read why in Sailing Magazine.
May 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
Sailors make macro adjustments like changing sails or reefing when conditions warrant. However, these mega moves happen about as often as one might change from forward to reverse in a car, sometimes once or twice during a trip, rarely more. More often, sailors are “shifting gears” as if driving a manual transmission car, powering up or down to get into the right gear, and making constant fine adjustments to find the groove. How do they do it?
In this sailing ‘how-to’, I offer upwind sailtrim suggestions for the novice wanting to learn more, and for the experienced sailor looking for a refresher. Read it in the May 2014 Learn to Sail issue of Sailing Magazine. If you want to follow along with slides, download the classroom material that the narrative is based on, here.
May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Seen first in Spinsheet Magazine.
There has been a lot of recent chatter about creating diversity in sailing. US Sailing gave the subject top billing at their latest conference. On the surface, the theme of the year, sailing’s cause célèbre, seems to be that if America’s skin is darkening, evidenced by the last two elections and demographic trends, so too should sailing’s. This is inarguably true, but let’s not underestimate the enormity of the task ahead.
Search the words “sailing” or “yachting” on Google and often they’ll come attached to a string with words like “elite,” “club” or “exclusive”. While there are outliers among us, sailing isn’t starting from a position of authority on the subject of enthusiastically engaging people other than old white men like me to participate.
Diversity isn’t something you brand and then switch on. It’s something you are. You don’t become diverse when you market to people who are different from you and hope they show up. It’s a condition where different people agree to be together because experiences, both in lifetimes and across generations, prove that it’s worth it. It’s not a temporary meeting at a neutral safe harbor. Once it starts, it continues. Once engaged, diverse groups manage the tensions that come from mixing alternate viewpoints. It’s hard to stay together, but truly diverse groups do.