Published on: 5 April 2013

The Year 6 Sailing Experience concluded last week with boys completing a basic sailing course at Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Preparatory School sailing co-ordinator Jamie Fagan says the four-day program teaches boys resilience, self-belief and develops problem-solving skills.

Now in its third year, the Year 6 Sailing Experience aims to engage boys in a learning experience outside the classroom. Mr Fagan said the program gave classroom teachers a real insight into their students. “Some are quite terrified at the beginning but every boy gives it a go,” he said. “We often see boys that are quite timid at first really flourish.”

Each class of about 25 boys spends four half-days completing the basic sailing course with a certificate (TL1/TL2) on offer. “The boys work towards achieving a level of competency,” Mr Fagan said. “This involves them leaving and returning to the shore safely; tacking and gybing; righting a capsized boat; sailing line astern; and heaving to.”

Mr Fagan said the conditions were milder than previous years but changeable, with two days lost on the water due to bad weather. Mr Fagan and Christ Church sailing instructor Alan Polglaze run the course, assisted by instructors Andrew Gill and old boys Ollie Marshall (2010), Tom Morrissy (2011) and Jamie Turner (2010).

“We cover a bit of ground in the boat from Dalkeith to Freshwater Bay, and Point Walter to Blackwall Reach. From the Chapel window it doesn’t look like much but for an 11-year-old it’s a fair distance,” he said. “We saw dolphins lots of black swans.”

Mr Fagan said the boys did really well and he was very proud of them. “What impresses me is the teamwork. They soon realise that they are not going to get the boat out by themselves. It’s great to see that in action and to see them get more and more efficient at doing it as the week goes on.”