There’s more to a successful junior program than racing

Published on September 4th, 2014

Greg Fisher shares his thoughts in WindCheck magazine on running a junior sailing program…

This summer marks my second year as head instructor at Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, CT, and fourth year coaching as a whole. In my experience, by far the most challenging aspect of running a junior sailing program is finding the right balance between competition and fun for so many unique personalities.

With a new event every week in the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound, it is easy to get overly focused on racing and “coaching to the regatta.” While competition is fun, this mindset also makes it easy to lose sight of all the different things that make sailing such a wonderful, enjoyable sport.

When I look back on myself as a junior sailor and think about what it was that has made me stick with the sport, I remember the simple things like the long distance sails and the beach days that always put a smile on my face. Of course, traveling to different venues and regattas for competition was also an important factor that kept me engaged and filled me with a desire to continue improving.

In essence, finding the appropriate balance between race and play is what makes a summer especially awesome, and it is an equilibrium that I have tried hard to instill in my time here at Cedar Point. – Full report

Editor’s note:
The following statement with regard to junior sailing is posted on the Cedar Point Yacht Club website:

“The mission of our program is to offer many opportunities for our junior sailors to learn to sail, build self-confidence, develop long-lasting friendships, and enjoy the many facets of the sport – from racing to ‘mucking about in boats’. Above all, it’s a time to get out on the water and have fun.”

Every yacht club program must decide on what is most important: developing youth champions or developing lifelong sailors. The approach is different for each, as is the success rate.

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