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Program Options & FormatBuilding Reach at an Affordable PriceThere are several options or services your program can provide --instruction, rentals, boat storage, windsurfing, racing, sailing for people with disabilities, and social functions. Each option has associated costs balanced against the potential revenue and increased public participation. Don't forget the possibility of coordinating with other groups in your community to reduce costs or increase use further. Group lessons are the most cost effective and allow you to teach more people to sail per instructor m a given time.
InstructionM any programs offer instruction to bring new people into sailing who in turn make use of the other services provided by the program. Often "rides" are offered to the public to expose them to sailing. Some people come back to sign on for regular instruction. Demand for instruction is greatest at the entry level (basic/beginning sailing). At the intermediate or advance levels, it drops off rapidly. With regard to classroom instruction versus on-water instruction, there is no question that proper and effective teaching of sailing requires on-water instruction.Sailing combines speed, time, distance, coordination, control, and using wind and water to propel the boat. Basic theory, knots, nomenclature, weather and rules that govern the behavior of boats on the water can be taught in a classroom, but the skill to sail a boat can only be acquired on the water. Instruction can be done through group lessons or private lessons. Group lessons have the advantage of teaching more people to sail per instructor in a given time, and it is also more cost effective. Group lessons work particularly well with people who can be programmed into a fixed schedule. For instance, college and high school students find after school hours convenient, and young school children have time available during their summer vacations. Group lessons are usually at least 2-3 hours long to give adequate instructor-student contact.Private lessons are more appropriate for people whose schedules require more flexibility. Appointments can be made ally day or evening, thus accommodating the student's other obligations. A student can come four days in a row, once a week, once a month, or take two lessons and go off on a business trip and return for the last two lessons. Many programs encourage the student to call before leaving home to verify that the conditions are suitable for tile lesson. Private lessons are usually one hour long.· When planning an instruction program, it is essential to know: Who your students are- children, adults or both; where they come from; what they expect to get from the course.· Drawing on these elements, define the instructional program: What type of lessons to offer-group, private or both? What is the minimum/maximum class size? What schedule will you offer? What type of instruction will you offer: Basics only, a progression from beginner to advanced, a course in coastal piloting, racing, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, catamaran sailing, keelboat sailing.· The costs for an instructional program include teaching staff, safety boats for onwater instruction, teaching materials (books. writing board, posters, whistles or loud hailers, buoys with ground tackle, sailboard simulator, etc.), life jackets for instructors and students, registration materials, certificates, and spare parts for equipment. On the income side the rate for private lessons is usually higher than that for group lessons to offset higher per student costs.
RentalsRental operations are usually a supplement ~to instruction. It's essential a system be established to minimize conflict between these two operations. Using Wilmette as an example, priority is given to lessons in terms of sailboat usage. Appointments for lessons can be called in at any time. Rental reservations for weekends can be called in NO MORE THAN 48 HOURS IN ADVANCE. At that point boats are "released" to the rental trade. Renters call on Thursday for Saturday rentals and on Friday for Sunday. This has the added advantage of renters having some reasonable weather projections for the weekend. It is not uncommon for all of the publicly owned boats to be reserved for a sunnier weekend day.Wilmette rents boats on an hourly basis. Its rental/lesson schedule is as follows: Monday and Friday 10:15 11:30 12:45 2:00 3:15 4:30 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10:15 11:30 12:45 2:00 3:15 4:30 5:45 7:00 Saturday and Sunday 9:00 10:15 11:30 12:45 2:00 3:t5 4:30 The 15-minute cushion is essential for rental turnaround and instructor sanity.To ensure that the renter has the minimum skills to operate the craft, the renter is required to verify his/her skills with a certification card or sailing demonstration. Wilmette uses a rental contract with regulations and restrictions and also reserves the right to judge the match between weather conditions and a renter's skill and experience. It's also good procedure to check the boats for damage after each rental, and if damage has occurred, prepare a repair order. Like your other program options it's important that the rental operation be consistent year after year. Users, especially occasional uses, need to know rules and routines will be in place and won't change every time they use a boat. The direct costs associated with a rental operation are staff, forms and repair of equipment.
StorageStorage of privately owned boats is another service, and another source of revenue. If space is available, storage can be offered in various ways: outdoor or indoor; seasonal or year round. Fees vary depending on the type of storage, and whether the boat owner is a resident or non-resident of the community. The extent of the center's liability for the safety and security of stored boats should be clearly delineated in the storage contract. Costs connected with storage are staff time involved in moving and storing the boats, provisions for boat racks, cradles, dollies, or trailers, insurance and security.
WindsurfingWindsurfing has great public appeal. It is exciting, attractive to non-sailors, easy to learn and has low start-up costs. Windsurfing instruction and rental operations can be profit centers for the program. Instruction is a service that the public wants and it will feed more new people into rentals. For people who have never done it, an introductory course is an excellent way to introduce them to windsurfing. Guidelines for rentals should include verifying basic skill proficiency before releasing any equipment, and discouraging any "take-away" rentals. Windsurfers removed from the premises often require major repair.
Boards come in all shapes and sizes (and names) such as "fiat" boards, Div 11 boards, "sinkers," funboards, slalom boards, etc. A good all-purpose board will be best for your windsurfing operation -- a 12- to 13-loot long, flat-bottom board with a volume of at least 220 liters, and preferably 250 liters, and a retractable daggerboard. Two sail sizes, 4 and 5 square meters, are ideal for instruction, and a 6 meter sail is recommended for intermediate lessons and experienced renters.
If children are involved, a kids' rig should be included in your equipment package. Working directly with a manufacturer or establishing a cooperative arrangement with a local dealer can reduce equipment costs significantly, and even lead to donations of equipment or leasing arrangements. Most manufacturers and dealers realize the benefits of helping qualified windsurfing schools.
PFDs should also be part of your inventory. And you may want to consider stocking footwear and wet suits for safety reasons. Safety/rescue craft are a must whether you run a rental or instruction operation. Sails should be battenless.
If your operation offers instruction, include a simulator, buoys with anchors, tether lines, and a catch fence/ line. The tether lines and catch fence/line give beginners a sense of security and help the instructor with on-water control and safety of the class. The recommended maximum ratio for students per instructor is 6:1, and it usually takes 10 hours to cover the minimum requirements for the basic windsurfing certificate.
RacingThis is a service that can be offered to people who want to test their sailing skills against others in the community or to satisfy their competitive instincts. Racing can range from informal fun races held on weekday evenings or on weekends to formal regattas. Separate races for children can also be held to fit their time frame. If racing is provided by other organizations in your community, it makes no sense to duplicate their efforts. Better racing can be achieved by coordinating efforts. Equipment for racing usually includes rounding marks (buoys) with ground tackle, a Race Committee boat or station, signal displays, a horn or whistle. And people are needed to run the races.
At best, racing is a break-even operation, assuming it is subsidized by a racing fee or membership fee.
SocialThis can be a vital part of the program. It offers people an important way to enjoy the facilities and an opportunity to make friendships. The program gains from these social activities because users feel more involved, dedicated and enthusiastic. This is also a good way to generate and sustain volunteers who often play an important role in the success of the program. Social activities can include: picnics, dinners, lectures, movies, receptions for visiting boats or "tall ships," water parades, concerts, sailing club, etc. Programs for People with Disabilities Most individuals desire, and frequently require, a sense of challenge, adventure, and freedom of motion in an outdoor environment. People with disabilities are no different in this respect.
Sailing provides the excitement in which people with disabilities can gain new skills and confidence. Offering programs for the disabled will require special consideration in planning and developing your facility. You must ensure proper access, appropriately selected equipment, and a carefully tailored instruction plan. Access in this case means having a barrier free-environment for mobility-impaired individuals, information for visually impaired persons; communication for hearing-impaired people, and consideration for mentally and emotionally impaired individuals. Equipment must be suitable for use by disabled sailors. Usually this means boats that are more stable, have ample room onboard and have layouts that permit operation by a person whose mobility is limited. There are specially equipped boats available.
The instruction plan should provide for a lower student-instructor ratio and include instructors with special skills (example: American Sign Language competency to work with deaf students). The staff will also require special training to ensure the disabled sailors get proper consider-at, ion without being overly protected. See Section 5 Mechanics for a more detailed discussion of programs for disabled sailors.
Program FormatYour program format is shaped by the results of your community-needs assessment, the identification of your market (youth, adult, schools, seniors, disabled, etc.), the facilities and equipment available, and the adequacy of the resources at your control. Each program must be designed to serve a unique market, in a given geographic setting, with given waterfront access, using finite resources and equipment in the best way possible. It is not possible to do everything at the beginning; attempting this will be overwhelming. Prioritize efforts and establish a phased development plan.
Here's where your committee of trustees and directors can be truly valuable; they should have a major part in creating this plan and a sense of responsibility for seeing it implemented. Your plan should provide you with immediate, short, intermediate, and long range goals. By building your program one phase at a time you'll have opportunities to learn as you grow. Mistakes need not be catastrophic, but can be turned into valuable learning experiences making succeeding phases go more smoothly. The material in Section 6 Case Histories should be helpful guides as you develop your own, customtailored program. They show approaches that have been taken by other programs.
In addition, here is a hypothetical program format plan illustrating the phased development concept. Givens: You have substantial public interest from adults, lesser levels of interest from youth groups, disabled organizations; access to small beach-front site with adequate protection, clean water and limited storage space; support from community recreation leaders and one local boat dealer. Immediate Goals: Get an instruction program started using boats that can be sailed off the beach. Publicize the program in every way possible. Offer rentals on not-to-interfere basis, with special rates for low-demand periods. Establish proper "image" for program: competent instruction, good maintenance, clean boats and facilities, consistent use and operating policies, sound administration. Short-Term Goals (this season): Add wind-surfing to attract youth, generate revenues. Run at least one youth class. Hold at least one social event for "graduates." Continue to build reputation/public awareness. Plan off-season activity: offer instruction, schedule boat repairs, maintenance: upgrade staff qualifications. Plan for site improvements: office/storage structure, workshop, bathrooms. Measure interest in expanding curriculum to include intermediate/ advanced sailing, racing. Intermediate-Term Goals (next season): Market and build youth instruction program to increase equipment use during hours adult usage is low. Increase size of fleet by adding catamarans, a few higher performance boats for sailors who want to go beyond beginner stage. Add rowing and canoeing (if market survey shows sustained interest). Establish targets: teach twice as many adults as last year, triple youth enrollment. Plan further site development: parking/storage areas; moorings; classroom/sail loft; launch ramp. Expand curriculum in accordance with market survey. Long-Term Goals (2-5 years): Develop program for disabled sailors, acquire appropriate boats and develop staff. Develop social organization to support and encourage growth of safe on-the-water activity. Add small keel boats to fleet, explore "cruises" to neighboring ports. Establish boat replacement program, with 20-25% of craft replaced each year. Affiliate with local schools and colleges to get students into sailing programs for academic credit. Expand facilities to enhance instructional capability and make use of boats and center more enjoyable (e.g., teaching aids, better classrooms, locker rooms, snack bar, equipment store).
Each of these goals, of course, entails the accomplishment of a host of individual actions that will have their own requirements for time phasing. They should also be reviewed periodically and revised or amended as the program develops and the public responds to the initial offerings. If financial support for a disabled program is made available two weeks hence, don't tell the donor to come back in two years! Be flexible. Exploit opportunities!