About the project
The launching and retrieval of rescue powerboats is an essential, but time consuming task for every dinghy sailing session. The Off The Beach (OTB) Dinghy Group’s expansion into (i) female participation, (ii) engaging families from non-sailing backgrounds via Discover Sailing (iii) retaining youth sailors by providing coaching and instructing pathways and (iv) disability sailing revealed that rescue boat launching and retrieval is a major impediment to efficient operations, and presented both a physical and/or psychological barrier to participation of certain member groups. In particular it was identified that:
· Many parent volunteers reported lacking competence and confidence to reverse trailers and launch/retrieve powerboats, especially if they were from a non-boating background. Training has been provided, but skill consolidation has been problematic due to lack of practice opportunities between volunteering and task avoidance.
· Female members particularly identified rescue boat launching and retrieval as a reason they avoided that part of the OTB Dinghy Group’s volunteering activities. The training in these tasks was appreciated but reluctance to independently perform the tasks persisted.
· Despite the Club providing a 4WD Gator ATV to tow and launch trailers, learning to drive the Gator was seen by some as an additional impediment. The narrow width and low seating position of the Gator means that sight lines when reversing are partially obstructed, and when coupled with the short wheelbase changing the pivot point response relative to a car, a higher level of trailer reversing confidence is required.
· Youth coaches (<17 years of age) identified they are unable to drive trailers on the public road linking the rescue boat trailer compound to the boat ramp, therefore being dependent on others to enable their activity.
· Sailors with a disability using powerboats to coach or view on-water proceedings did not have a safe, correct height option to enter boats from land.
Floating dry docks were identified as a remedy to these participation barriers. Boats are stored on, but above, the water, they are secure and stable with easy access from dry land, are launched by simply engaging reverse gear and driving off, and retrieved by driving onto the dock or by hand winching. As the boats are no longer stored on a trailer, issues surrounding trailer handling and the associated boat ramp launching and retrieval are eliminated.
Feedback from OTB members is that they believe the floating dry docks are the solution. They have further identified significant time efficiencies that will make better use of volunteer resources. Efforts to train parent volunteers in trailer reversing, boat launching and retrieval have not resulted in a critical mass of new volunteers for these important tasks, consequently a different solution that removes the need to trailer-based launching and retrieval is required.
The OTB Dinghy Group is a subcommittee of the RYCT that focuses on small boat sailing from ages 7 years to Masters. Whilst the RYCT is a full service yacht club offering marina facilities, keelboat racing, cruising, a professional slipway and boat yard as well as dining, function and bar facilities, this project is for the specific benefit of the OTB Dinghy Group activities. As such, OTB Dinghy Group participation opportunities are listed.
Discover Sailing: Short courses (2-3 days) aimed at school and community groups to introduce children (and their parents) to sailing. It is a key strategy to enabling opportunity for non-sailing families. All equipment is provided by the OTB Dinghy Group.
Tackers: A fun introductory, games-based sailing program designed for children aged 7-12 years-old. It is a structured and scaffolded training scheme designed to teach the skill progression from novice to race-ready junior sailors. The OTB Dinghy Group provides all equipment and it is delivered by qualified youth and young adult instructors under the supervision of a Australian Sailing accredited coach,
Junior Fleet: Tackers graduates (up to 15 years old) actively training and racing under the guidance of OTB Instructors and Coaches.
Youth Fleet: 15 years and up sailing Olympic pathway boats. These sailors regularly compete at the national level and are coached by OTB members who are qualified coaches and/or elite TIS/AIS sailors.
Open: Generally 18-19 years and older, racing Olympic class dinghies and One-Design dinghies.
Masters/Veterans: OTB has an active Masters and Veterans fleet who race in conjunction with the Youth and Open fleets.
Sailors with a disability: OTB/RYCT has a long involvement with the 2.4m Class, a Paralympic single handed boat.
Powerboat Handling / Rescue Boat Operations: OTB Dinghy Group also provide accredited MAST boat licence courses and the Australian Sailing courses in Powerboat Handling and Rescue Boat Operation. These courses provide parents with the on-water skills to actively support their children’s involvement and participate in the safe operation of dinghy sailing training and events. New parent volunteers are initially teamed with an experienced rescue boat operator and progress through a gradual release model to become independently proficient. Youth sailors aspiring to become instructors and coaches also require these certifications as part of their qualification pathway.
The RYCT OTB facility is increasingly gaining popularity and with the facilities being used up to 6 days a week in Summer, and year-round the utilisation of the support boats is increasing.
With the installation of these pontoons comes the opportunity to recognise the kind donations of our supporters. OTB plans to recognise substantial donations with signage installed at an appropriate location.
In summary, the acquisition of these floating pontoons will mean a huge difference to our OTB sailors experience whilst sailing from the RYCT, through time savings of coaches and volunteers along with a reduction in many of the risks associated with launching and recovery of our OTB support vessel fleet.