Get Your Program Ready For Summer!

1. Make sure your staff are certified

Make sure that all your returning Instructors have a current US Sailing membership, instructor certification, current SafeSport certificate and their CPR/First Aid/AED Training is up to date. You can check if an Instructor certification is valid via the US Sailing Member Lookup. Just login with your US Sailing Member ID and Password, type in you staff member’s name, and click on their name. For any of your newer staff, have them get certified as Level 1 Instructor. Course information is on the US Sailing website. You may also want to consider having your staff get a USCG Six-Pack or Captain’s license. US Sailing’s educational partner, Mariners Learning System, can help with that process!

2. Schedule Pre-Season Training

Schedule time with your staff and volunteers to ensure they’re ready for the season. Have you staff model teaching different lessons and be certain to run through your Emergency Action Plan (find an example of one here). Doing so will make you better prepared in case you ever need it. This is also your first opportunity to truly build a team. Use team building activities to help your team bond.

3. Skill Up your sailors!
Is your program still using paper evaluations to track student progress? Take your program to the next level by using Skill Up! Built to support US Sailing’s skill development curriculum, the Skill Up App provides US Sailing members with access to skill tracking, instructional videos, and teaching resources. Any US Sailing member can access features by logging in with their membership info and US Sailing Smallboat Instructors can evaluate (and track) the progress of their student. There’s also a discounted membership for any student using Skill Up!

4. Start Lesson Planning

Do you have a curriculum for your classes? Have your staff create the lesson plan for their first week, taking into account your learning objectives and potential challenges, such as weather (Find a lesson plan template here.) If your program is using Skill Up there’s a whole host of lesson plans and resources available, such as videos and content from Sailing Drills Made Easy! and Teach Sailing the Fun Way, two publications that US Sailing provides for free, digitally, within the app. Be sure to also brainstorm rainy day activities with your team. Modules from US Sailing’s Reach program can help fill that role (check out module one, which is free online, for a sneak peak!).

5. Complete Sailboat Inspections (and any Necessary Repairs)

Are your boats in sailable shape? Be sure to check out all the sails that you stored during the winter and review all the lines (and bungee) to make sure it’s not frayed. Also be certain to see if any of your hulls or spars need repairs that may not have been completed the year before. It’s also good practice to order a few spare parts for when things go missing or break.

6. Make sure your Powerboats are Ready

Make sure all your powerboats are in working condition and have the appropriate (i.e. USCG required) equipment. Many programs have implemented Bluetooth Engine Cut-Off Switches (such as the one from Fell Marine) while others have gone with the LifeCord. Figure out what works best for your program. You may also want to consider having a US Powerboating Safe Powerboat Handling Instructor come in and do a 1-day accelerated Safe Powerboat Handling course.It’s a great opportunity to ensure all your staff are capable boathandlers.

7. Streamline your Administrative Processes

Where are you posting notices about summer events? Do you have a communications calendar scheduled? Are all your boat titles and staff certifications properly cataloged? Use the pre-season to “get your ducks in a row. Setting up systems and easy access to important information will go a long way towards making your season more enjoyable and your constituents happier. It’s also a great idea to identify what your main weather sources are so you can make sure all staff and families are looking at the same info.

8. Create a Sailing Library

Make sure you have a good sailing library both written and on video. Get copies of Teach Sailing the Fun WaySailing Drills Made Easy! and the Reach Educator Guide to help your instructors and then look for some good video that you can show to supplement your classes, or offer a cool rainy day activity. You can purchase many of US Sailing’s books digitallyas well. YouTube offers a host of options, many of which are on US Sailing’s channel.

9. Personal Safety Equipment (PFD, Sun Protection)

It’s a good idea to have loaner life jackets for students who forget them, and the same goes for having backup sunscreen. Having a few extra sets of foul weather gear is also a plus but not a necessity. As a US Sailing member, you get discounts on Gill Marine, Fell Marine, SailFlow, Hobie Eyewear, and more. Access your discounts here.

10. Assign equipment to staff

Make sure that your team is aware of what to do when something breaks (and it will). Assigning equipment (radios, boats, etc) to individual staff is one way to encourage accountability. But be sure that your staff knows that you want to hear from them if something isn’t working or has broken and it won’t get them in trouble.
Want to read up on US Sailing’s best practices for running your program? Check out US Sailing’s program manuals: