Week 7 – Dinghy Instructor course

Like the caterpillar we had to move on the next stage of our development and become butterflies. This week our focus had to switch from our own sailing to teaching others to sail. I had a slight wave of déjà-vu back to my P.G.C.E. (teacher training.) The challenge then, as now was that we are still learning our craft as well as trying to learn to teach it too. Peter Gordon returned as one of our Coach Assessors and we were joined by more Rockley royalty, Rockley Point Centre Manager, Straw (Andy) and Chief Instructor, Liz. Some external candidates were also on the course which made for an interesting dynamic to the DI course.

The week was made up of an on-going assessment as well as classroom-based sessions. In the classroom we learnt and followed “The Method”. When I first heard it, it reminded me of “The Knowledge” which is what Black cab drivers need to know in London. In the classroom we learnt about different learning styles, session planning, more in-depth sailing knowledge and the responsibilities that a DI has. Out on the water we had to deliver sessions in double handers, both out of the boat and in the boat, as well as deliver a session from a powerboat for single handers. We also had to give a presentation on a random sailing topic and do a land-drill for either a tack or gybe.

If in doubt, do the 'Floss'

Our first couple of sailing on-the-water sessions were in double handers, practising our in boat tuition. We took out some aft(rear)-mounted main sheet Wayfarers which we hadn’t used before - this threw a few people including myself. The weather for the week was grim. It was cold and wet, which sapped what little energy the Leapers had. We had both extremes of wind - high and none which meant sessions had to adapted/ditched on the fly. Luckily, commander P. Gordon, my sub-groups assessor, rallied the troops and kept us well-watered with hot chocolate. We were also made aware of dance craze called “flossing.” Feel free to contact Peter Gordon regarding this as he an aficionado on the subject. I am more a lambada man myself!

Both my single hander sessions had to be changed on the fly to suit the conditions. In the high winds, I ended up setting up a relay race much which went down well. When the wind died, I did…or should I say attempted a dry capsize drill. Unfortunately for me, my centreboard fell out so I couldn’t stand on it when the boat was on its side, so I just had to flop into the water to put it back. However, everyone managed to do it, which I put down in no small part to my excellent teaching…nothing at all to do with my “students” being trainee instructors.

It was good to see that Peter, Liz and Straw all had slightly different styles of coaching whilst still following “The Method.” Sessions had to be safe and fun - my sessions certainly leant towards the fun side! For my presentation on IALA and buoyage I went to my teacher tool kit and tried to make it as interactive as possible.

The week came and went so fast. It’s all still a bit of a blur. All the Leapers passed or got deferred, which means they passed but need to complete an action plan which involves doing few extra sessions/tasks under guidance before getting their full qualification. With our mission accomplished it was an obligatory night of beer that followed!


Sometimes just getting to the end of something is an achievement. Considering I am still standing and exhausted, I think just finishing the course was something I can be proud of. I was deferred but I was complimented on my coaching/teaching style. My action plan focuses on working on my general sailing and wind awareness. As I’m going to be based in the UK I am confident I’ll be able to complete action plan soon.

Highlight of the Week

This is an easy one…Seeing the fruits of my fellow Leapers labour in achieving Dinghy Instructor qualifications. Top work everyone.


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