You know the old adage “start as you mean to go on”…
Words & Photo RYA
Last year saw Team15 get a bit of a facelift as it went back on the road and also saw a new skills element introduced to embed the core windsurfing basics in sailors.
With the inter-club events again moving around the regions, and an increased focus on coach and instructor development in clubs, the numbers of Team15er’s sailing weekly began to improve, with the number of participating clubs growing too.
The early signs are that what was new last year is having a positive impact both in terms of sailor development and also momentum in clubs. So the buzzword this year? Consolidation. RYA High Performance Manager and Team 15 Event Director, Chris Blackburn, explains: “We put some strong foundations in place last year and we want to build on these. It was good to have sailors travelling around their regions for the inter-club events again as it gives them valuable experience of sailing on different stretches of water, in different conditions and against sailors from different clubs. The feedback on the skills challenge was good too as it provided a different focus for sailors other than racing. Team15 has always been about developing core windsurfing skills and racing is just a good platform for fun competition. Somewhere along the line that got lost and, for some, Team15 was seen as just racing. But through the new skills challenges the penny really started to drop about the importance of developing core windsurfing skills and how these skills put a sailor in a really good place to continue in the sport for life, in whatever discipline they want.”
To really underline the value of the skills challenges, for the first time this year a skills competition will be incorporated into the National Windsurfing Championships and Team15 Champions Cup at Grafham Water on 9-10 September. The skills and racing competitions will still be scored separately, and Chris is excited to see the skills challenges evolve. He continues: “Last year we found the top three sailors in the inter-club event racing were typically different to the top three in the skills challenges. This was unexpected but a positive because the skills competitions ended up opening up the field for other sailors, especially newer sailors with no racing experience to win too. At the National Championships we want to run skills challenges for all 3.5s, 4.5s and 5.8 categories; this is likely to be a fun relay-style competition with prizes. We want sailors to practice their core skills, not racing. Whether that is sailing one-handed, doing a foot drag, a rig 360, a duck gybe, or whatever, master these and everything else follows.”
One of the biggest thrusts for the new-look Team15 was to make clubs more self-sufficient in terms of inspiring and developing more coaches and instructors. A team of Team15 trainers, headed up by Sam Ross, will continue to work closely with the club coaches again this year in a bid to leave a legacy of clubs developing their own coaches and instructors to sustain Team15 long-term.
To help upskill instructors in Team15 clubs, and subsequently boost the capacity of clubs to run more high quality windsurf training, the RYA will subsidise instructor courses for appropriate candidates. Local clubs are encouraged to team up so one course can be held within a region.
In addition a weekend of Team15 club and coach CPD was held on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March at Oxford and Leeds respectively, with the focus on inter-club events and the sessions relevant to both host and non-host clubs. Topics included race management, running skills challenges and how clubs can best train for them, admin, organisation and results (SailWave in particular) plus other Team15 updates. Meanwhile, with the Techno Class Association recently undergoing a significant change in focus towards providing more training within the regions, Chris thinks this will enhance even more pathway opportunities for sailors and coaches alike. He concludes: “Those attending the CPD days learned more about the regional opportunities for clubs to link in with the Techno class. But there is no doubt more regional training means more chances for sailors and coaches to develop their skills beyond Team15, if racing is not a pathway they choose to pursue. Our aim for Team15 this year is to keep building the numbers and see more windsurfers entering the National Windsurfing Championships and the Champions Cup. Last year gave us great reason for optimism, now we have to harness that momentum to keep driving Team15 forwards.”
To find out more about Team15, visit www.rya.org.uk/programmes/rya-team15/Pages/hub.aspx