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Tuning to Win by Ian Pinnell
Tuning to Win by Ian Pinnell

Youth and Junior Race Coaching at Weir Wood Sailing Club with Jon Emmett

by Christopher Hopkins 26 Nov 20:08 GMT 23-24 November 2019
Youth and Junior Race Coaching at Weir Wood © Christopher Hopkins

Over the weekend of 23 and 24th November, at a time when most clubs have had their laying up suppers, Weir Wood SC in Sussex was buzzing with young sailors and their parents as the club hosted weekend of Junior and Youth race coaching events.

Like event organisers everywhere, we watched the weather forecast with trepidation in the week before, as it was, the strong winds forecast for Saturday did not materialise leaving instead a grey, drizzly day with light but sailable winds. Six Oppies from the Zone squad with their coaches made good use of the available daylight to hone their on the water skills supplemented by shore theory and video debriefs and refreshments supplied by the club's brilliant new caterers. Alongside them a small group of Oppies from the home club fleet were out on the water.

At the same time, the club's home grown Olympic Laser coach, Jon Emmett, assisted by Jack Rockett, ran a coaching session for a mixed group of 15 Laser 4.7s and Radials. Laser-specific rigging techniques were demonstrated and practised on the slipway before launching to a programme of boat handling exercises leading up to short races with gut buster marks requiring the fleet to complete a complete turn around a mark challenging both boat handling and tactical planning.

The video debrief at the end of the day allowed Jack's technical wizardry with video and voice editing to complement Jon's coaching expertise.

Saturday ended with an informal evening lecture from Jon which gave a fascinating insight into the challenges of coaching prospective and successful Olympic sailors from widely differing cultures.

Again contrary to the forecast, Sunday dawned with sunshine and a slightly better wind. The Oppies carried on where they left off on Saturday but the Lasers were replaced by a fleet of demonstration boats representing the RYA Youth pathway classes each with an expert coach. 20 youngsters from across the South East arrived eager to try their dream classes, their realistic next options and generally have a great time. Not surprisingly the 29ers were the object of most peoples' desires but they then had the chance to compare them with the joys of symmetrical spinnakers in 420s under Tim Rush's expert guidance. For the single handers the clubs Lasers were available with various rigs and support from Jon. Smaller sailors were introduced to Fevas and Toppers. The chance to try windsurfing with the Technos gave another option. By the end everyone had had a chance to try every suitable class for them and in many cases those that perhaps they will not achieve for several years yet - great to see young (and very small) Oppy sailor Harry grinning from ear to ear after his first efforts at trapezing on a 29er!

Overall a fantastic day was had by all. Thanks to the Weir Wood Youth parent team from Weir Wood for putting it together, to Topper International for their demonstrators and to the 29er, 420 and Techno classes for sending boats /Boards and coaches to support Jon Emmet and the Weir Wood team of coaches.

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