For me this weekend was a new chapter in this year's introduction to Norwegian sailing.
Together with Jan Steven we visited the Norges Cup in Bergen, which turned out to be as beautiful as I remembered it.
Even though the races were raced under mainly light and shifty conditions it turned out to be quite good event. The RC kept it's cool and the sailors gave it their best. Also, it gave me some good idea on the challenges that our sailing sport in Norway faces.
The most important thing after this weekend is that I feel we need to send out much more information on opportunities and challenges that kids and parents can expect when they decide to participate in future sail-racing. I will try to come up with the first two:
Sail-racing is about making decisions in ever changing conditions while trying to sail an unstable sailing boat over the water; and the one who makes less mistakes normally wins.
For me, and thus from an educational point of view, this 'sailing stuff' is a great opportunity for 'personal development' and to have to that as an Optimist kid at early age is a great privilege in the world we live in today.
So, my first point I will try to make is about realizing that in the development from kids in early age dealing with all aspects of this 'sailing-thing on your own' is actually good for practicing quite some important skills like self-talk, discipline, dedication etc, etc. And with an average time of about 4 years in an Optimist this is great and mostly with kids getting too big for the design weight, more than long enough.
However, if than the age of around 13 is reached, it's clear for everybody that other, more 'social skills' of life should come into play and these 'social skill' (communication, adapting, more communication) are basically all essential while working in a team. So for me as being in a team is the next chapter in the 'book of life'.
So, the first point is: after spending a bit chunk of your kids sport career in an optimist it's time to think about a double hander or bigger team sport, before you decide what to do as a real Olympic career.
Then of course the big question is: which class is than an option? For this I feel we need to try and predict the future. Here I think we need to realise the fact that foiling is going viral in the sailing community. Though a lot of the broadcasting we see are giving the idea that foiling is as easy as getting into an optimist, I urge you to realize to take this not too lightly, especially when you feel that this needs to be done in races where RC like to get their races in also in heavier breezes!
From a 'sail-sport-technical' perspective I always talk about 'apparent-wind' sailing, and this basically where the answer to the above question can be found. Which double handers are actually great apparent wind boats where the 'fundamental sailingskills' can be learned in a friendly competitive and safe way? We have right now a nice development of class growth in the modern youth skiff the 29er, and as we speak, initiatives are being made to start up another class which can comply with these demands and also fulfill the part that we need in Norwegian sailing. I hope to inform you about this the next time we speak!
Rigo de Nijs
Sportsjef Norges Seilforbund