Training School News

Ten sailing and powerboat instructors joined Chief Instructor Matt French and Chief Instructor (Powerboating) Mark Boyes for the pre-season Instructor session on a beautiful spring Saturday. This included four Dinghy Instructors who got their tickets last October and two Assistant Instructors who took the course only two weeks ago. They joined several experienced Dinghy and Powerboat Instructors for a day of theory and practical refresher training.

Alfie briefing the group on the Man Overboard exercise

The day started with the paperwork, making sure everyone had supplied their up-to-date certificates, availability and other details to the office. This will allow the office to make sure the necessary instructors are available and scheduled for the busy season which gets underway on Saturday 9th April.

Matt reminded everyone that they must follow the RYA Code of Conduct, as well as local Grafham procedures to ensure the training we deliver is to the highest standard.

Mark then ran a powerboating quiz to refresh everyone’s memory on powerboat handling and safety on the water.

On the water exercises in the school’s Picos

The dinghy and powerboat instructors then split into two groups to practice land-based drills, with one instructor explaining a topic from the syllabus to the rest of the group. As with actual instructor training courses, one person takes the role of instructor and gives a lesson on a topic to the rest of the group who take the roles of trainees. The two newly-qualified Assistant Instructors were thrown in the deep end, having to give the first two talks, on ‘clothing’ and ‘points of sail’. Once everyone had practiced an onshore topic it was time for lunch in the cafe: filled baguettes and chips to ready everyone for the afternoon’s on-the-water sessions.

Dinghy instructors practice debriefing

The dinghy team were to do three activities: sailing backwards, racing starts and man overboard. The instructors leading each activity gave a briefing on what was needed and then it was out in the Picos for the ‘trainees’ and in the RIB with Matt for the ‘instructors’. Once the first session was completed, the ‘instructors’ and ‘trainees’ swapped places for the second and third sessions. Then it was back to the shore for a debrief on the activities.

The final session of the day was powerboating for everyone. Mark gave the group a briefing on the safety equipment carried on our RIBs (including a first aid kit, toolkit, fire extinguisher, anchors and much more).

Powerboat Chief Instructor Mark Boyes giving a safety boat briefing

Andrew gave the Coxswain’s view of do’s and don’ts when driving a club RIB and a guided tour of the shed. The dinghy instructors were allocated to three RIBs, with a Powerboat Instructor in each. For the two AIs, who hadn’t yet done any powerboating, it was a chance to learn the basics and practice manoeuvering. For the others, who hadn’t done any RIB driving since last season, it was a refresher on all aspects of boat handling. For one RIB this included a live rescue, when a club sailor became separated from his boat and had to be rescued and reunited with his dinghy.

Finally it was the end of a very informative day and the team went away fully prepared for the busy 2022 Training School season.

Many thanks to Matt and Mark for leading the sessions, Russell, Andrew, Megan, Gary, Olivia, Alfie, Sam, Findlay, Jack and Dom for preparing for the new season.