Clinics, Briefings & Debriefs
Plan the launching, racing and social schedule to accommodate learning time. Instructors need:
- An assigned area where their group can gather for a discussion (a room,
- a corner under the tent, a quiet grassy spot, an area of the parking lot)
- An event site diagram at registration, showing where/when each group meets
- Portable white boards with markers; if possible, magnet boards with boats
- A club volunteer to help, making sure instructors have everything they need.
Clinics the day before the event: Have an instructor for each class of boat for a half- or full-day clinic. Combination of onshore talks, rigging demos and on-the-water drills followed by debriefs.
Practice starts and races set up the afternoon/evening before the event for early comers. Even if there’s little instruction, it’s a chance for sailors to get used to the sailing venue. Hold a debrief, however short, afterward.
Clinics the morning of racing work well where races are scheduled later due to wind conditions. Can be either tactical topics of interest to all or breakout groups for specific boats. Include local knowledge (wind shifts, tide/current).
Debriefs after each day of racing or whenever there’s a break in the action, due to too little wind or too much. Before racing, ask instructors who will be out on the course and who know a particular class to run a debrief immediately after racing. There’s often a narrow window of time to make this happen. The organizer can announce the time/place of the Debrief for (xyz) course as sailors are coming off the water and remind instructors to be there on time and start the Debrief. It’s best to have a knowledgeable coach run these, but a Debrief can work if you just get the group together, talking about what happened on the race course.
Get the kids talking and asking questions. The less experienced kids want to hear their more experienced peers talk about the race; they want to learn. Always encourage questions. Have an experienced coach point out things they noticed and illustrate on a white board.
Debriefs are a great time to include any guest experts, Olympians, US Sailing Team members. Ask the top sailors in your club to help with Debriefs, too. Debriefs can be a team effort with coaches, parents and competitors.
Event Organizers should facilitate these learning activities, setting the tone of learning and helping each other out, as well as the expectation of good behavior and sportsmanship.