Who will replace sailing’s aging volunteer army?

April 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sailing Volunteers

Sailing ranks among country churches, Amish barns and potlucks as institutions substantially built and shaped by volunteers. Their work is all around us: in our clubs, games, safety nets and schools. They deserve a giant shout out. But shout loud and shout fast, because they’re also old. Here’s how to make sure their legacy of altruism isn’t squandered: Read my latest “On the Wind” column in Sailing Magazine.

SailingMag

What a Sailing School Can Be

March 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

Family SailingMy latest in Spinsheet challenges schools to include the whole family, and families to include sailing as the thing done together.


Taji Jacobs was always on the look-out for fun outdoor activities that might be done as a family.

She thought sailing might be fun for everyone, though she was a bit apprehensive herself. Would she feel scared? What if she didn’t understand the lingo and made a mistake that caused trouble? Would the kids think it was boring? Would Paul be interested?

Then she saw a Facebook post about a new kind of sailing program, discussed it with the family over dinner, and they decided to give it a try. Read more:

Kids should sail because it’s fun, not because it’s homework

February 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

If you haven’t heard, US Sailing is going all-in on STEM. The plan is to integrate school subjects with sailing lessons in a program that some claim will revolutionize the teaching of sailing and attract gobs more kids to it. Sailing centers and clubs around the country are jumping on the bandwagon. Sailing coaches and club directors are pitching school boards to deliver kids to the docks, where sailing instructors will do the teaching. Imagine, one day, the guy who codes your kid’s shoot-em-up computer game will have been trained on an Optimist pram. Tillers may soon have joysticks.

I can’t imagine a quicker way of making sailing—which I think ranks right up there with the most fun things ever—less fun than polluting it with algebra. Read more in Sailing Magazine.

SailingMag

Sail trim class presentations

February 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sail Trim Class

It’s always fun, and a sign that spring will eventually arrive, to share sail-trim concepts with the hopeful and studious folks at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. Here are the presentations from this year’s classes. Download and share as you wish.

Upwind Sail Trim; Mains, Jibs and Rigs

Downwind Sail Trim: Spinnakers, Speed and Polar Diagrams

And here’s the cool Wind Tunnel App that makes classroom conversation a tad more tolerable.

Let’s do this on the water when the ice breaks.

-N

Racing with Copepods: A case for creative mentoring

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.

You can like Racing with Copepods on Facebook and find a viewing at http://www.racingwithcopepods.com.

Racing with Copepods screenshot

When a sailor needs anger management

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.

To race or not to race (when teaching sailing)…

September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sailing School Race

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.

SailingMag

 

 

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