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Juniors Pathway Program at Manly Skiff Club

by Adam Lucius 20 Nov 13:41 PST
Flying11 - Manly © Sail Media

Sailing chose Teira Jansen rather than the other way around. Married to accomplished sailor Pete Jansen and mother to young sailors Chloe, Alana and Lachlan, Teira has become immersed in the sport at grass roots level. So that puts her in a really good position to judge the Manly 16s junior sailing program from close range.

"It's a really lovely group of people to work with and it's so amazing watching these children do stuff that I know I wouldn't be able to do," she said. "They're so independent and tough out there through all sorts of conditions and challenges. "You see how capable and independent they are when they have to face things and react quickly.

"So many children these days are mollycoddled and kept in cotton wool and I think it's absolutely brilliant for them to be tested while doing something they love. "The confidence and capability they have is incredible and the Manly 16s junior pathway is setting them up to succeed." That pathway is the envy of sailing clubs throughout the country.

The journey from Manly Juniors to Flying 11s and then onto the 13s and 16s has been trodden by some of Australia's finest. Overseeing the current program is Olympic gold medallist and club commodore Malcolm Page. He loves where it's at but declared the best is yet to come.

"The junior program is justifiably the source of much pride and is doing well but there is so much more we can do," he said.

"It's going to be a big area of focus for us in the next year or so. "We need to bring more sailors in and how do we do that? We get them from other areas and also bring them up through the juniors. "That hopefully feeds that big, hairy, audacious goal of building the 16s long term.

"As a dad and a commodore, I am very excited about the future." We've heard from the adults in the room, but what about those actually experiencing the program first-hand?

Teira's nine-year-old daughter Chloe sails Manly Juniors and F11s and has been besotted with the sport since first hitting the water three years ago. "It might be a bit scary at the start but when you keep doing it, it becomes so much fun," she said. "The best part is you get to meet new people and make new friends while learning. "It's kind of competitive but when you're back on land, people don't really care about the result so much."

Harry Thomas and younger brother Baden were sailing before they were at school, with both their father and grandpa heavily involved in the sport. The siblings, along with their younger sister Adi, are working their way through the Manly Juniors and Flying 11s with an eye on eventually graduating to the 13s and 16s.

"It's been a good experience. The coaches are great and we're all good friends with the other sailors," Harry said. "I want to do 13s and 16s in the future and this is the best way to learn."

Abi Rolfe and Tayla Lees are close friends and rivals in the 13s fleet. They live for race days.

"I made my way up through Manly Juniors to Flying 11s and now I'm in the 13s," Abi explained. "It's a really good and supportive community and the coaches and other sailors have helped improve the technical side of my sailing. "I want to go as far as I can. My goal is to sail in the 16s and then look at the Olympic classes."

Tayla, 14, has similar ambitions. She said: "Race day and training days are the best part of the week. "All the people who are involved are amazing and help you out so much. I've learned so much. "I'd love to get into a 16 when I'm older and Olympic classes could be cool as well."

Having witnessed the progression of dozens of sailors in recent years, Teira recommends budding competitors complete a learn-to-sail course before signing up at Manly 16s.

From there, your education will be fast-tracked under the careful guidance of expert coaches.

"Manly 16s run a very good program with great coaching and facilities," Teira said. " It's such a welcoming atmosphere and the willingness of the more experienced sailors to give back is lovely to see. "And to be able to sail on the harbour every, what an incredible opportunity for a young kid."

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