JSA All Instructor Symposium Write-up

On June 22nd, Larchmont Yacht Club hosted the annual All-Instructor Symposium for JSA instructors from all around the Long Island Sound. The Symposium consisted of a series of keynote speeches and group sessions that encouraged discussion and growth within the instructor community. The skill level of instructors ranged from highly experienced racing coaches to new junior instructors, creating a diverse environment for stimulating group discussions.

The morning began with a talk by YMCA Program Directors Mary Lawrence McMillan and Blair Overman. Coming from camps on either side of the Neuse River in North Carolina, McMillan and Overman’s camps are both single gender. The two camps often meet to sail due to proximity. This gives McMillan and Overman a unique insight into the different learning styles of boys and girls in junior sailing. McMillan and Overman spoke about how their experiences influenced teaching style based on gender and what techniques might be effective in different situations. After the morning keynote there were three breakout sessions, one of which was lead by Brian Clancy, Head Coach at Cornell University. Clancy spoke about team racing at the youth level and how to promote involvement. All speakers had wonderfully prepared talking points, with a lively JSA raffle in during breaks.

The afternoon session commenced with a keynote by Charlie Enright, Volvo Ocean Race Skipper and four time All-American sailor at Brown University. Enright spoke of his lifelong passion for the sport and lessons he learned from junior sailing that aided him as a professional sailor. While speaking about his experience in the formidable Volvo Ocean Race, he highlighted that teamwork, determination, and passion helped him complete the arduous journey around the globe. Marianne Juca, a Junior Instructor from Horseshoe Harbor Yacht Club, said that she was “inspired by [Enright’s] videos of the Volvo race,” and was surprised by how far an interest in sailing can take you professionally.

After the keynote, the instructors attended group sessions that focused on important skills for junior sailing instruction. One session, titled “Drills Without Winners,” was led by Kevin Broome, the sailing director of American Yacht Club. This session focused on teaching sailing skills with noncompetitive drills. This style of instructing is often encouraged in the JSA because it allows sailors of all skill levels to improve their own sailing without discouraging less experienced sailors.

Jack Fullerton, Head Instructor of Riverside Yacht Club, ran a session focused on connecting with sailors. Fullerton encouraged continuous positive communication between the instructors and sailors, and highlighted the importance of respect in the relationship. He also addressed many common problems that instructors face when dealing with sailors and answered many questions asked by the attending instructors. Examples of these problem include: how to treat sailors that may be the same age as instructors, dealing with groups that have a wide range of skills and behaviors, and establishing a friendly but authoritative relationship with the junior sailors. Multiple sessions throughout the day focused on proper rigging and tuning skills for each boat class. These sessions focused on foundational skills that instructors should instill in their sailors, and highlighted many common mistakes that are made by new instructors. They also helped introduce instructors to boat classes they were not familiar with. Lauren Giantelli, Head Instructor at Huguenot Yacht Club, said that the session about the RS Feva was “very interesting and educational,” since she was not familiar with the recently introduced boat class.

A new addition to the Symposium roster were sessions focusing on Powerboating skills, as powerboats play a crucial part in aiding sailing instruction. One of these sessions was led by Rob Crafa, the Waterfront Director at SUNY Maritime College and US Powerboating Instructor Trainer, and focused on setting up coach boats and learning about the powerboat’s engine. The Symposium was a great learning experience for all instructors that attended, and taught them valuable skills, which will be utilized to help junior sailors this summer.

Written by Gaby Anselmo

Edited by Cooper Nefsky