By Airwaves writer Tyler Colvin.
So you want to coach sailing? Great, welcome to the best summer job you will ever have. Whether you are in high school and a junior sailing veteran, or a college athlete with minimal yacht club experience, there are several things to think about when applying to your first coaching job: location, job description and program size. Sail1Design happens to have the largest sailing/marine industry career center in the sailing world! Check it out.
Location: Where in the World?
If you are planning on applying to the club you grew up sailing at and know intimately, you can skip this section. Location of the club will impact your coaching game plan for the summer, stress levels and social life (important for your own sanity). Finding the best balance for your own personal preferences will help you become successful and get the most out of the best summer job ever.
Factors such as lake sailing versus ocean sailing, venues with lots of current or tidal change, and wind tendencies are all physical features of the club and sailing venue that will impact your ability to be an effective coach. If you grew up on a lake and go to a club on the ocean you suddenly have to deal with tides, large waves, kelp, increased traffic, the list goes on. Be comfortable in the setting that you are applying to, and if you aren’t comfortable, find a way to spend some time before the session starts adjusting to the conditions.
Off the water, location is just as important. Having fun outside the club is key to a good summer as well. Isolating yourself in Northern Maine at a club where the nearest town is several miles away is great if you are ready for that situation. However, if you still want to see your college friends, family, crew, whoever, it could be a difficult place to be for 10 weeks. Also if you are a race coach, the further you are from other clubs, the longer your regatta trips become.
Job Description: What Am I Ready For?
Read the job description. Read it again. If you have any questions, email or call the point of contact and inquire. No matter the boats you will be coaching in, age groups matter, as do sailing abilities. Know the age group and ability level you will be working with, if you are uncomfortable working with small children then a Beginner Optis Coach position may not be for you.
Time commitment in terms of length of program and weekly hours should also be outlined in the description. If you are applying to a club far from home, know that for 10 weeks this summer you will be away from friends and family. That sounds great for some, but can be a deterrent for others. Knowing the time commitment allows you to also plan your own life, racing, gym time, a second job, whatever it may be.
Program Size: Size Matters
The size and extent of the programs you are applying to can vary drastically. There is a huge difference between a summer camp with four sunfish and a 420 from the 70s, and a 300-sailor program with 36 club owned boats, 18 privately owned boats, and a coaching staff that rivals small college athletic departments. Not only are there differences from the obvious size and skill level, but also mentality and philosophy play a role.
Big competitive programs tend to also have big money and big personalities amongst parents. You will work with some incredible sailors and staff, make a huge number of good connections and have a large support group behind you. Conversely, you will deal with lots of, well, enthusiastic, parents. Small programs tend to be more relaxed and have a more fun learn-to-sail atmosphere. The trade off there is more responsibility if things go wrong, fewer people to help out, and you still might be one or two of those involved parents.
Ready, Set, GO…Get Certified
Some programs may require, most in fact will, a certification of some sorts. CPR/First Aid are standard, but the big one is your US Sailing Level 1 Certification. This multi-day course covers everything from drills, to basic boat handling and motorboat skills. Regardless of whether you think you need it or whether it’s required, get this certification. It is unbelievably helpful with programming and curriculum development as well as covering any situations that may arise. Beyond that there is the insurance, which covers you for a huge amount on top of the sailing program’s insurance.
Do you feel ready for summer yet? Check back here for more tips and tricks to landing your dream coaching job: http://sailingjobs.sail1design.com/
By Airwaves writer Tyler Colvin.