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The 5 Essentials to setting up  a Sailing School

Boats

First on our list is boats and without boats – it is very difficult to take people sailing and whilst I have seen that some schools will tell you they can teach you to sail on a computer, it’s not really what I’m about.

There are a number of considerations to think of when arranging boats for introducing people to going sailing:

  1. availability: Do you have boats available for taking people out, members owned or club owned. Are you able to plan?
  2. maintenance: Who maintains the boats, what are they made of and how readily available are spares?
  3. suitability: How suitable are the boats for introducing people to sailing, will it scare them or put them off?
  4. storage: Where will the boats be stored, can they be racked and are they easy to rig/derig by one person?
  5. cost: How much money have you got to spend on boats and equipment. Second hand boats can be a low entry cost but will they achieve a sustainable long term solution?

At Sydney Sailing School we have invested in what we believe to be the best boats on the market today. Whilst this has not been a cheap exercise this is the rationale behind why we have purchased O’pen Bics, RS Quba, RS Fevas and RS Vision. Whilst you may think that there are similar or better boats on the market, I’m not here to argue, I think the reasons that we have chosen what we have is important.

  1. Plastic: the boats had to be made of plastic. Sailing school boats take quite a hammering and whilst learning to look after kit is very important I don’t think it should be at the detriment of fun or dragging boats up beaches.
  2. Self draining – modern design. Bailing boats to me is like double declutching in cars. We stopped designing boats that we had to bail in about 1990.. why do we continue to teach people in boats that were designed 40-50 years ago. When kids first start sailing they love capsizing – but soon get bored when they have to bail out their boats. Capsizing should be part of the fun. Adults don’t tend to like capsizing and so boats should be stable and not unfairly punish mistakes by making students have to bail for 10 minutes after a capsize.
  3. Low Maintenance – to deliver an effective programme boats must have a high up-time and be low maintenance. Commercial Sailing Schools have long worked towards getting a utopian boat that has performance, is light weight and low maintenance. The boats that we are using were developed with these attributes in mind. production boats built to withstand daily use by beginners with off the shelf spares.
  4. Multi-use: In our opinion, there should not be a gap between learn to sail and ongoing participation in the sport and this is the area that I think most clubs or programmes miss as they focus on training people to then go on and sail and race the traditional classes of the club. Non sailors that learn to sail tend to want to buy or continue to sail the boats that they have learnt in. They don’t really like the confusion of having to choose a second hand boat unless they have sailed one before and understand what they are buying. I think clubs try and persuade people to buy boats way too early in their sailing journey and may not actually be necessary for the sport to grow. (More on that in a future email)
  5. The RS Quba and RS Vision are designed specifically for the sailing school market and are not really raced – the Quba is used for schools team racing in Asia and looks pretty cool as a double hander but is definitely more of sailing school teaching boat. The RS Vision is the best boat we have sailed for introducing adults on a safe stable platform with a bit or performance to keep it exciting. Based out of skiff clubs we regularly hear people wanting to learn how to sail a skiff, and we know teaching trapeze and spinnaker to somebody who has not done it before is very hard. In the RS Vision we are laughing!
  6. The RS Feva and O’pen Bic are both International Classes with great following all round the world which allows for a seamless progression from learning to sail to international racing… in fact there is no reason that somebody couldn’t end up going to a world championships without ever having owned a boat… how cool is that.

The following table was put together to show a comparison between the different boats we have chosen with the RRP,

7-13 years Adult Mainsail only Mansail and Jib Spinnaker Trapeze ISAF Class RRP incl Dolly – top-spec
O’pen Bic Yes No Yes No No No Yes $3,995
RS Quba Yes S/H Yes Yes No No No $6,395
RS Feva Yes S/H Yes Yes Yes No Yes $9,995
RS Vision with Instructor upto 3 plus instructor Yes Yes Yes Optional No $14,550

 

This information has also been emailed to you, and is the first of 5 emails – bite sized chunks! I really hope that you find this information useful and that you are able to introduce more people to the sport of sailing.