Charlie’s Blog – DI in a (long) weekend (part 2)
Back in February, KSSA Fleet Captain Charlie Baker decided on attending an RYA Dinghy Instructor course. We pick up the second part of his story as Charlie faces the reality of sailing in the Solent in mid-winter…
Force 7 was predicted for the Monday of my dinghy instructor course so it looked unlikely that we would be sailing, therefore in the morning we were mainly in the classroom learning about the RYA method on how to tack and gybe. This may seem like a piece of cake to most sailors as it is something that every sailor does without even thinking, however after seven years of racing different dinghies, and almost twelve years since I first learnt to sail, I had built up many ‘bad habits’. While these habits do make me a more efficient sailor, and help me to gain speed on the race course, it is really important that every beginner is taught the same method for tacking so as not to confuse them, as I result I spent the morning relearning how to tack via the RYA method through numerous hours of land drills. After more time in the classroom I began to gain confidence with teaching the double handed method.
For those that don’t know, there is a set order in which you teach beginners how to sail which is really important to follow so that any instructor can pick up where you left off if you are not around to coach. The general idea is that you first familiarise them with the boat before focussing on the elements required to head upwind, finally focussing on downwind sailing and gybing before setting them off on a solo triangular course. This can either be taught as in a double handed boat with the instructor present in the boat, or can be taught in a single handed boat very close to shore. It is the double handed method that we aimed to have confidence in teaching by the end of the day.
After lunch, a gap in the wind was spotted so we were told to get ready at lighting speed and rig up two bathtubs… sorry Wayfarers. We then role played an instructor student interaction in which we had to teach the other person to steer the boat, and to get them sailing on a beam reach. Unfortunately the area we were in was very gusty and two gusts took Zoe and me completely by surprise; we therefore ended up in the water not once, but twice, begging the question… “why did I book this course for February and not in the middle of the summer?!” After extracting ourselves from the disgusting Solent water – that was so mucky that you could almost chew it – and after ten minutes of bailing water from the bathtub that we were sailing in, we continued the exercise until we were told that we could head in.
On the dinghy instructor course, you are required to give a short presentation on a sailing related subject such as tides, or the five essentials. I was asked to give a presentation on sail controls and what they do, which after doing lots of racing, is second nature by now, so you could argue that I got off lightly. I therefore laid a boat on its side with the sails up and demonstrated how the sail controls work using that.
Once we had completed the presentation and the daily quiz, we had dinner and study of what we had learnt for the next day. Despite the high winds, and the capsizes, I was really enjoying the course. If anyone is looking to complete their DI course in the near future and have any questions then please feel free to come and find me at any of the KSSA events.