Looking for more 'bums on gunnels' then Canterbury has the answer

Welcome to Wellington! Young sailors have plenty on their hands in the 2009 Optimist Championships in Worser Bay.

These numbers are growing each year, in the 2009/10 season figures are expected to reach 4000.

So, what is it that attracts Canterbury schools and teachers to sailing?

A new government education policy to encourage schools to place more time and emphasis on sport and recreation is a major reason. And sailing has the ability to cover the entire current outdoor activities curriculum, a sort of one stop shop.

Why is it that Canterbury Sailing Ltd leads the way nationally in the delivery of these schemes? Building good personal relationships and trust with schools is never a short-term endeavour. Schools are very aware of risk management issues that surround any sporting and outdoor pursuit. The balance between having good wholesome fun and learning, coupled with a vital risk management matrix is a constant juggle. The answer to this lies in experienced qualified staff that recognise risk before it becomes an issue.

Without skilled and dedicated coaches, instructors and management none of this would be possible. Canterbury Sailing Ltd takes this on board and for this reason we invest time and energy (not to mention money) in training our young, and not so young people, and pay them well to deliver these programmes in the classroom and on the water.

Schools see the benefit of our sailing programmes in terms of the professional way in which they are presented, and the coverage of the curriculum.

As a result of this success with schools, we now have Canterbury sailing clubs approaching us to deliver their Learn To Sail and coaching programmes. With this relationship, we have developed a clear pathway into the club system. Clubs see the benefit of our LTS and coaching in terms of professional delivery, less stress on volunteers and resources, and above all young sailor retention (up to 60% over 3 years).

The success of all these programmes is the culmination of many years hard-dedicated work. With the building of new relationships with clubs and the expansion of participating schools, we see a bright future for sailing in Canterbury.

Geoff Wright
Canterbury Sailing Ltd