Challenges of Junior Sailing Programs

When it comes to sailing programs for juniors, the primary goal needs to be the need to develop a passion for this sport in them and also kindle a desire in them to continue with the sport. It often happens that kids are asked to spend a lot of time in boats, often years and that does not translate to happy experiences. The fun is often replaced by the pressure to succeed, especially with competitions in the water.

For such reasons many of the sailing clubs that promote junior sailing classes and programs run into problems such as fewer entries and number of participants or students. This is one of the main reasons that the junior sailing programs are not being able to retain kids who are running out and that translates to a poor retention rate.

Nowadays the sailing classes are available for six-year-old onwards which used to have a higher entry level age, about 8. However many of the kids have scary experiences early on and spend many years on the same boat that reduces their enthusiasm to learn as well. The structured and serious programs pressure kids to learn, train and take the fun out of sailing. When kids are not ready and are subjected to racing pressure, they are put on regattas which are too large, overwhelming events for them. The kids with potential are often pushed into the competitions within a year.

Though not every child drops out and some do continue to be future world champions, others often drop out after learning the basic skills. This is a problem being faced by Sachem’s Head Yacht Club located in Guilford. There are several clubs in the area and many offer instructions to juniors. These are Club420s, Optimists or O’Pen BICs which have programs for kids of the age 6 to 15 which include a program of duration 4 to 8 weeks.

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