Although kids and adults alike are inspired to awe by modern foiling AC75s sailing at 50 knots in 15 knots of wind; although the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and many others gain prime television air-time, Olympians sail for the glory; or Bear Grylls for survival; your inspired kids may never sail or achieve their dreams unless adults provide the very simplest of introductions to the sport. And we all know it’s not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It is so many great things, to so many great people.
“Create pathways? But I’m already busy - I’m time-poor … and you mean taking the kids and grandkids to the sailing club, don’t you?” That’s one of many options… but it might not be the first step for you. Many kids want to play cricket, soccer, rugby or go surfing with their mates. They can’t do everything – but what happened to recreational sailing and family or holiday fun with friends on the water?
Take them boating, and tell them about your love of sailing, family history or sailing stories. Explain how racing works; why cruising is fun and tell some great stories. Stir their imagination a bit. You don’t have to overdo it if they are enjoying the day out. Invite their friends and their families too, so they enjoy it together.
Watch some racing close-up! The pre-start tactics; the speed and skill, the angles - so exciting! When there’s so much genuine excitement in the sport, a theory lesson is not the most fun way to introduce someone to sailing. Go out on the committee boat, hang around the pontoon on race day, take them out as crew on a rum-race or harbour cruise. Watch some foilers in action! How exciting is kite-surfing to watch? .
The key to generating interest and passion for your sport may be different for every kid; but excitement, safety, friendships and encouragement will always feature. I’ve taken a few budding junior sailors out as fill-in crew on adult mid-week keel-boat races, and never failed to ‘wow’ them. Clubs now have bigger dinghies like the RS Quest which kids can sail with their friends.
There have been major advances which make your job of creating sailing pathways simple! New plastic hulls like the Feva and Bic are designed to be simple and low-maintenance. Once they’re out on the water, if an 18-foot skiff flying past doesn’t excite them, nothing will! There is now Wing Foiling, Kite-Surfing and Foil-Boarding which all challenge and develop their interest and their comprehension of the possibilities in sailing.
You don’t have to buy, rig, store and maintain a never-ending series of sailboat models (and their trailers and spare gear) any more. The Tiwal* is an award-winning, engineer-designed inflatable sailboat that fits in the boot of a small car, or below deck on a launch; can be rigged and ready to sail in 15 minutes and stored on a shelf in the garage. It can be sailed by a single sailor, a pair or even more; by old and young alike, and it is fun! It is a breakthrough in comfort sailing in dinghy classes, yet allows people of all persuasions to learn the skills even to high-performance levels safely, in all but the most extreme conditions. They’re self-draining and unsinkable! I’ve never met a kid or adult yet that wasn’t impressed by their trendy appearance, their great design and construction, their versatility, stability and their performance, and the sheer fun they have on-board. They are proving to be a popular, growing class for a huge range of sailing types, and a great investment in family adventure and sailing fun. Keep one at the holiday house or on the boat, or in the garage when you or grandparents aren’t touring the outback or the high-country lakes with it. It is just so easy!
There’s something of interest for everyone in sailing … in taming the wind, in the tactics, in adventure and challenge, in teamwork, and even in the protest room! What other kids sport gets them ready for the courtroom, and to stand up for their rights? Give them excitement, great memories, strengthen great friendships and family bonds with fun outings.
Share your passion, and show them the way.
*Check out TIWAL at www.tiwal.nz Enquire about the end of season sale of the Tiwal 2.
I am a New Zealand sailor who learned to sail in the beautiful Malborough Sounds and then went onto represent NZ at the 2000 Olympics.