US Sailing Initiative – Squaring the Pyramid

The most valuable piece of mail I’ve EVER gotten from US Sailing came this week. I’ve talked in this forum before about needing to have more opportunities for kids to sail than just to race. I knew I was not alone in that endeavor and now US Sailing has listened. (Here is the PDF of the mailer)

They call it “Squaring the Pyramid” and it is an approach used by other sports organizations to continue to identify top athletes, but also to understand that everyone can benefit from the skills taught at every level of a sport. 

The “Pyramid” as it is reflected in sailing, refers to the narrowing of a coaches time down to the top performing athletes. The result is that people loose interest. Especially in our sport, where there are so many different avenues to participate, I’ve held the belief that it is doing our sailors a dis-service to focus solely on racing.

Here is what the new approach will look like:

Sailing Disciplines

Courtesy of US Sailing Foundation

As you can see this model builds fundamental skills then creates branches for the different skills required for racing v/s skills for recreational sailing. While I believe that racing makes you a better all around sailor, some people just aren’t into it. Also, this creates a specific set of Skills Based Training at age appropriate levels to make sailing a lifelong pursuit.

As an instructor struggling to find a place for all of the students we work with, this is incredibly exciting news and I’m looking forward to seeing the transition in the sport and the sailing community.

George Sheller

July 6, 2018 1:05:15 AM GMT+03:00

US Sailing has always been at the forefront of getting youth into sailing and thereby racing or off-shore sailing. I like your graph for the training ladder and skills based training. But, let’s not forget the parents who have introduced their children to sailing, either through crewing (recreational and/or racing) and supporting these youth into adulthood. In fact, I suspect that most sailors come from parents who sail. These parents, most likely, also find a venue to teach their children to sail at higher levels and this, most likely, is through a US Sailing venue. I don’t see the “parents” on your “Squared Pyramid”.

In our Club (Arizona Yatch Club) our greatest obstacle to getting youth involved with sailing and keeping them there is the huge amount of competition from so many other venues (from video games, football, dance, you name it, and on and on). We have had a US Sailing learn to sail program (8 to 80 years old) for years and have recently ventured into training youth to race. It’s a hard sell. The Phoenix metro area is one of the largest in the country but only a few youth are interested. Yes, we sail in the desert, its hot in the summer but we race year round.

past AYC Commodore and current Club Racing Fleet Captain

Rob Gibbs

July 6, 2018 1:50:27 AM GMT+03:00

Hey George…
Thanks very much for your comments. You are correct, there are huge pressures on kids time these days. I honestly believe that the solution is to create opportunities for kids to Sail MORE! Whether that’s in classes, on flotillas, racing, or just for fun. Creating opportunities for kids (and adults) to Sail MORE is, in my opinion, the way to move the sport forward. I appreciate your comments and look forward to working with you to just that.
Rob Gibbs
Commodore, Arizona Yacht Club
Owner, Desert Wind Sailboats

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