Teaching Sailing using Games

by Chris Kameen on November 17, 2014

Football sailingThere is nothing new about teaching sport using games, in fact it is positively encouraged by the Australian Sports Commission and even has it’s own name “Game Sense Approach”. When developing the Tackers programme with Yachting Australia, a strong emphasis was put on games instead of traditional approaches and i think the Tackers success in introducing kids to sailing has much to do with the games that are played.

To a traditional sailor in Australia this will likely look horrific. as we tend to want to stop boats from coming anywhere near each other in case they get damaged. In our games we get very close to each other in fact collisions are common and it makes for a much more relaxed fun sailing environment. Check out the squeals of laughter and fun in this game of football where the object is to pass the ball between team mates and score in the basket. When the kids are focused on something else the sailing becomes second nature.

From a sailing school point of view it would be very expensive to play these games in fibreglass boats irrespective of how good or strong they are. Recently we played this game in fibreglass Pacers and fortunately there was no wind as I was nervous every time boats came together or someone walked or knelt on the bow. Fortunately we had no damage but it made up my mind that the Pacers sadly had to go.

If we can keep the kids having a tremendous amount of fun whilst at the same time developing their skills then one day they will start racing already with a love of the sport.

This sailing revolution has already happened in Europe, and I am excited to see this starting to happen in Australia. The Tacker opti is a great first step but unfortunately only meets the needs of the littlest kids and has an ulterior motive of getting the kids into racing optimists as soon as possible. Once clubs realise that they are missing out on the kids that don’t want to race yet they’ll convert to the industry standard European sailing school boats.


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