How class associations can help

April 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Following a fine night sharing #gosailing ideas at the Willamette Sailing Club, member Kerry Poe, Lido sailor and sailmaker, wondered:

Great talk. Nice to look outside of our often too locked in racing perspective. [I’ve seen] many clubs focus on pushing for members that will race. The reasoning was that if you look at all of the volunteers and most active people, they are racers. The inactive cruisers tied up limited dock and lot spaces and to the most part did not contribute much personal time to the club.

Maybe having some shared club owned boats allow us to bring in these new sailors without tying up our limited space.

… and then:

I am a board member for the National Lido 14 class association. We have monthly phone board meeting and most of the time there is some discussions on how as a board we can help the growth of the class.
The Lido is the type of boat that is very stable and easy to sail. Some will find it a great entry boat with its bench seats, stability, ease to sail and can take a bunch of people on it. Others like it because you can race with your spouse in a short course college style racing. The range of talent is huge from complete beginners to National caliber sailors.
Overall the National class is in decline. Here in Portland our fleet had 30 boats on the line back in the late 70’s. About 5 years ago our fleet was down to 3 boats on the line. I jumped in thinking that it was a good platform for us older guys who want to sail with our spouse in close tactical racing. Our fleet now get 12 boats on the line with a large range of talent.
Most of the other fleets are pretty small and struggling. From what I have seen around Portland is that the strong fleets always have at least one person that is a spark plug to build the fleet. What I don’t know is how a National association can help individual fleets become more active and grow.

I suggested:

Off the cuff, I’d connect the dots between this question and your idea in your earlier email. Why not have class associations be the fundraising and grant-giving organizations that seed, if not create the shared fleets?

It’s a strategic move: all members chip in a few bucks each to help make or expand a fleet where it’s necessary, thereby broadening the base and deepening the membership. And like you, I tend to think that the local work done by the dynamic volunteers isn’t something the larger org should try to do. They’re not connected. But, but granting fleets, they would leverage the volunteer’s hours with access to boats and time on the water for more.

Thanks, Kerry, for adding to the conversation!

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Peter Rieck – A Sailing Hero

April 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

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Peter Rieck

He’s too humble to admit it, but Peter Rieck may be among the most important and influential sailors in the world in the last thirty years. Quiet, unassuming, accommodating, always present, and usually working, Peter has helped many generations learn to sail and learn to love sailing.

His impact is staggering. As the longtime Executive Director of Milwaukee’s Internationally-acclaimed Community Sailing Center, Peter has been the key figure in:

… raising tens of millions of dollars and enlisting tens of thousands of volunteer hours in order to acquire and maintain an unmatched fleet of shared sailboats, to build an award-winning campus, and to create the reference curriculum for sailing centers around the country …

… teaching thousands of kids and adults that wind, water, waves, and working together on a sailboat are priceless joys …

… nurturing hundreds of teens to become counselors, teachers and mentors to their younger peers, and, along the way, to become leaders themselves …

… deftly navigating a minefield of local politics, yachties-gone-altruistic, and scattershot volunteer committees, yet remaining firm and focused on a mission of teaching and sharing, safely, fairly and in good fun …

… showing an otherwise skeptical community that investments in outdoor education, open access to public parks and waterfront, and youth scholarships and part-time work always improve lives, especially when kids face stiff headwinds …

… inspiring a multi-generational team of volunteers to create a sailing community.

If you’ve ever been to MCSC, you know that it feels like a village. Friendly, helpful, accessible, fun. Just like Peter.

Peter announced his retirement a few weeks ago and will be leaving Milwaukee to invent a new life with his long-time partner Kathy, in Chicago.

If he has a fraction of the impact in Chicago that he has had in Milwaukee, the city will be transformed.

The Ideal Sailboat for Teaching and Sharing

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

The ideal teaching and shared sailboat

The trend towards shared sailing fleets for training and daysailing is unmistakable. Community sailing centers and clubs around the country are collecting a variety of boats on which members often take their first sail along with an experienced sailor, take their first official lessons with an instructor, and then take their independent sail once qualified.

A common theme emerges when you speak with the operators: the ideal shared-fleet teaching designs don’t exist yet. If such designs were available, clubs with broader memberships and community support would raise the money to buy all new fleets. After years of discussions with these wishful folks, I’ve assembled a list of criteria to describe their dream design. This, in Spinsheet’s Oct 2015 issue, is what I’ve heard:

Bermudan (and New Zealand) kids learn to sail at school

April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Spirit of Bermuda
I’m glad to have clarifying feedback and a deeper understanding of WaterWise, a program in New Zealand and Bermuda that integrates sailing and school subjects.

From Gus Miller at BSWW:

Good day Mr. Hayes,

In your February 1, 2015 Sailing Magazine piece “Kids should sail because it’s fun, not because it’s homework” you make statements carrying some grains of truth but you need to be a lot clearer about the intent of your essay. While you mention some valid points about STEAM, branding and fads, the corrupting effect of corporate goals and values, governmental heavy handed lack of insight and the abuse of funding, your statement that “in New Zealand… sailing is not a school subject, nor vise versa” needs correction.

Since 1980 New Zealand Schools WaterWise (NZSWW) and since 2000 Bermuda Schools WaterWise (BSWW) have taught tens of thousands of 10 to 12 year olds about water safety, seamanship and sailing as part of their school curriculum. NZSWW and BSWW are school based programs led by teachers, are not junior or after school sailing programs, have no need for outside sailing instructors and are conducted during school hours as part of the curriculum. They do use collaborating local club facilities in some cases while in others the schools themselves have waterfront facilities.

The biggest fans and drivers of WaterWise in Bermuda are the teachers because of the powerful effect it has on their students. It brings the joy and excitement of sailing into the classroom and the kids respond by becoming better students academically, better in deportment and in self esteem. Integrating school subjects with sailing lessons is a program that would “revolutionize the teaching of sailing and attract gobs more kids to it”, if it is done the right way

If middle schools in the Milwaukee school system had proper WaterWise program for all students, the number of children wanting to continue sailing would overwhelm Milwaukee’s capacity to provide the opportunity. While a few see the potential, that is just not happening in the USA because no one has a clear vision or understanding of how to do it, politics and egos get in the way and there is a general fear of change or something new and different.

Best wishes, Gus Miller / BSWW


Mr. Miller: I am pleased to know more about your terrific program. You might enjoy this article on page 44 of the May 2104 issue of Spinsheet, about the work of the Spirit of Bermuda, which I believe has a connection to your program.

As to the intent of my article on STEM: let me be clearer. I have no issue with program innovation and creatively integrated teaching curricula. We can use much more of both in the US.

  • But, by adding many more fund-hungry institutions to an already too-small and too-empty education funding trough, we face a possibility that good schools and teachers might be hobbled when well-intended STEM sailing programs take money from schools and remove professional educators from the equation. And therefore…
  • …that both schools and sailing programs should be generously funded for the benefit of both. I hope that US Sailing will make this its primary institutional objective, since all other alternatives pale.

-N

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

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