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ORCV offers master classes in navigation by the pros

by Tim Boucaut 2 Jun 05:26 BST
Rod Smallman rugged up on Maverick - ORCV Winter Series © Dave Hewison

The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria (ORCV) is remaining proactive during the Coronavirus and is now presenting a rare opportunity to take part in three online navigation courses by the world-renowned navigator, Will Oxley, and respected Melbourne double-handed sailor, Rod Smallman.

The ORCV felt that while in isolation, and as life in general begins to return to normal, there is plenty of time to upskill and learn new things from those with proven knowledge.

Fundamental, Intermediate and a Masterclass (advanced) sessions are open to all who are interested with a personal approach to delivery. These courses are interactive with a skilled ocean sailor/navigator/trainer.

Traditionally courses were offered on a half or part day basis face to face in a classroom, but the online courses allow for delivery of content, dialogue and screen sharing with attendees and bit size pieces of information. This format allows time in between to review, revisit and complete homework and to brush up on the techniques and absorb the information.

The overall course content was the mastermind of ORCV member, Rod Smallman, who designed the course content that caters to all keen navigators and those who are interesting in learning this necessary skill of the sea. The first two sessions involve an exercise regime and preparation. Once attendees are prepared, Will Oxley will guide them to the top echelons of navigation.

Ahead of taking on the 2018 Melbourne Osaka double-handed yacht race with his son Tyson (they finished third overall), Smallman went on a big learning curve, including maximising his navigation skills after learning to sail. He learned navigation through Expedition, running scenarios through virtual and real races, ahead of becoming one of Will Oxley's students, "To soak up as much as I could from 'The Master'."

"For the ORCV, it's more about mentoring fellow ocean goers. In other words, it's not just 'here's the course and it's over'. There is always an option of follow up as we try to ensure everyone gets it," says Smallman, who was named 2018 Double Handed Racer of the Year and ORCV Racer of the Year.

While Oxley, a two-time winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Ichi Ban and 2003 line honours victor on Skandia says, "I'm keen to be involved." The Northern Queenslander has also navigated five round the world races with top three finishes and won the Oryx Quest round the world race on the maxi cat Doha 2006.

"It's the right time for the courses, especially while there's not much sailing going on, and it's a great opportunity upskill," Oxley says.

"It's clear the majority of yachts are using navigation software, such as Expedition to help them navigate these days. The next step is to raise the level of its tools so people get more out of them. Tools like Expedition can make a massive difference when you're racing, but the vast majority of those using it are only using a small portion of what's available in the program. The aim of the course is to redress that really."

"By nature of their profession, navigators are a solitary bunch so learn their trade in isolation, not sharing with others, and this course aims to redress that too," Oxley finishes.

One of the beneficiaries of the earlier class room courses is Glenn Fitzgerald, skipper of the yacht Summer's Lease, who joined the ORCV last year. He says, "Expert in-person training with practical examples and practical knowledge, on both the basics and the use of technology. It's more than a few hours of training with the ORCV. The bonus is ongoing mentorship where no question is a problem."

Fitzgerald adds: "We've really been impressed with the ongoing support, encouragement and follow up. The course has given our crew confidence and impressed upon us the control that is needed. It's been a fabulous journey and we are desperate to get out sailing again!"

For detailed course information and how to book, please visit: ORCV members receive a discount on all courses.

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