Being a sail coach
Andrew Parkes, former Co-Head Coach at the Sail Parry Sound Sailing School, describes his enjoyment of being a sailing instructor. Here, he is coaching Abigail.
The Coaching Lifestyle at Sail Parry Sound
Coaching at Sail Parry Sound is truly a special experience that you will cherish for a lifetime. The Parry Sound of Georgian Bay, for which the town is named, is a pristine body of water providing an amazing backdrop for the sailing school. Most of the sailors come from the surrounding area or are summer residents.
Sailors and coaches alike share their enjoyment of features of the sailing school week such as “island day”, when they all sail to Two Mile Beach on Wasauksing, across the water from the town to enjoy a picnic lunch on a Georgian Bay beach. The Wasauksing Council welcomes our use of their beach.
Theme day is also a favourite; at the beginning of the season the coaches choose themes such as Olympic, Retro, and Pirate Day. Every Friday, the sailors are encouraged to dress up; the theme adds to the effectiveness of bonding activities throughout the day.
Beyond the sailing school day, coaches, also known as instructors, socialize by going sailing during off-hours and participating in water sports, fishing, and race nights. They may also choose to coach adult lessons for extra hours each week or help to run the weekly race night event.
At least once a week, coaches gather for productive meetings to share ideas and innovations. They are invited to communicate suggestions or concerns directly to the training director and the board of directors.
Every morning, the young sailors arrive, eager for the day’s adventure with their coaches’ guidance.
Not only youngsters, but also adults of all ages, from four continents come to learn to sail here. It can be very rewarding to coach a couple or an individual, seeking to acquire a new skill.
The sailing school has a racing team which spends the days training for regattas and travelling to compete. Regattas such as the Big Sound Challenge give the coaches of Sail Parry Sound the chance to watch sailors compete, refine their coaching skills and meet other coaches from around Ontario as well.
More new sailors arrive weekly and familiar faces, siblings, and cousins keep coming back year after year, making it very rewarding to coach at the sailing school.
The Coaches and Your Role
The coaches, often graduates of Sail Parry Sound Sailing School, soon become a small close-knit team. Each one really becomes an essential component of the entire operation of the sailing school. Like running a small business your role at the sailing school requires you to be independent and act as if you are personally responsible for the operation of the school. You are always backed up with the help of the school’s friendly director.
Instructors coach groups of children, usually in pairs, and alternate between various CANSail levels, depending on the coach’s certification.
Coaches use motorized boats to teach and supervise the students. Each day, they add a new skill to the students’ repertoire, followed by practice drills.
The Sailing School and our Location
Sail Parry Sound is the headquarters on the shoreline of Parry Sound. The Boathouse at the sailing centre is the base for the sailing school, with lockers for sailors’ belongings, as well as larger personalized lockers for each coach. The Boatyard protects dinghies such as 420s, Picos, prams and members’ boats.
Each day, students beaming with anticipation rig the boats and take them down the ramp and into the warm waters of the bay. The natural wind and waves on the Big Sound prevail and we all have another day of the finest freshwater sailing in the world.
Andrew Parkes, Co-Head Coach, summer 2012