Thursday, July 23, 2015

Perfect Formula for a Blown-Out Regatta

A weather alert forecasting over 20 knots of winds and 5 to 7 foot seas wasn’t good news for Kathy Allyn, Chairwoman of the USA Junior Olympic Festival at the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club (MHYC) on Lake Erie in June. With 126 participants, aged 7 to 18 arriving for the event with their parents, she had to think fast.

So, Kathy flipped her plans for the US Sailing Skill Builder Clinic scheduled during the Festival. Normally, the clinic is structured with Day 1 to include both classroom and on-the-water instruction. Days 2 and 3 offer on-the-water coaching during the race. But mother nature had other plans, so Kathy worked with the clinic coaches to adapt to the situation. Day 1 was spent racing (prior to the inclement weather) followed by two-days, either in the classroom or on-the-water, in small groups. Coaching young sailors to manage small boats in tough conditions proved to be an important learning experience for everyone.

The kids had a great time, and went home with confidence in their ability to manage waves, wind, and gusty conditions – the kind of conditions they are usually told to avoid.

US Sailing is providing nationally recognized sailing coaches at many of the 27 Junior Olympic Festivals held around the country this year.

The top notch coaches interact with everyone involved, from volunteers to coaches, as well as instructional staff and race officers. These clinics build the collective skill set and raise the level of expertise for all.

The MHYC event welcomed top coaches from George Washington University, Stanford University, and the College of Charleston.

“The lead coaches bring national and international experience to the local level and help to mentor the next generation of coaches,” said John Pearce, Head Coach at George Washington University.

It’s always a relief when bad luck is transformed into good. “It ended up being more of a sailing conference for kids,” said Kathy, who plans all the MHYC junior activities. It’s likely that Kathy’s quick thinking, rather than luck, resulted in this unexpected success. Great job, Kathy.

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