The Isle of Opportunity

The dynamic training duo of Alan Jones and Geoff Stones have been visiting clubs on the Isle of Man since 2013 to make it as easy as possible for candidates to participate in Dinghy Instructor training.

Over the years, they have been frequent visitors to the clubs and RYA recognised training centres on the Island and supported over 60 Isle of Man sailors to achieve their Dinghy Instructor qualifications.

Last month the team returned to Manx Sailing and Cruising Club to meet another cohort of candidates. This time greeted by Dr May Shiu Chan, a former lady commodore of Manx Sailing and Cruising Club and a lady renowned for bringing a certain electric energy to the club.

As with many Dinghy Instructor courses, the candidates are often well versed with being on the receiving end of trained instructors but have yet to participate in any training. This Autumn group was no exception and attracted sailors from across the Island, from The Venture Centre, Isle of Man Yacht Club and Manx Sailing and Cruising Club.

The assembled group boasted a mix of abilities, from world-ranking sailors in Teddy Dunn to those lesser experienced sailors like Arthur Bankes-Jones with little to no sea sailing experience and Alex Kissack, who had only started sailing six months prior.

There were certainly no one-size fits all approach to this course!

Set against the backdrop of the picturesque Mooragh Lake Park, the conditions were a moderate to fresh breeze, gusting to the top of Force 5. The sea state was quite lumpy, but it added to the group’s excitement and kept spirits raised.

For the more experienced sailors, this was just another day in the office, but the newbies were completely in awe of sailing on the sea with such big waves, and the pairing of abilities was fantastic. This was an incredibly supportive group, and the progress of the less experienced sailors was tremendous.

However, it wasn’t plain sailing; whilst for some, learning to sail downwind with the spinnaker and then without the rudder, a few capsized and had a couple of swims, but it was great to see the sailors pushing the boats and themselves to their limits.

We are pleased to report all sailors passed with flying colours.

At just 19 years old, Alex Kissack, our youngest sailor from the Venture Centre, rejoiced in the opportunity. Having only six months of inland sailing experience to draw upon from the shallow Mooragh Lake in Ramsay, she quickly got to grips with the sea state and big winds and passed the Dinghy Instructor Course confidently.

Talking about how she got involved in sailing Alex said: “I was given the opportunity by work and started out sailing with a friend on the Mooragh lake after work. By the fifth time I went out by myself, things had started to click! The hardest part was learning what words meant what on the boat but once I got that I found learning a lot easier. In the future I’d like to learn more for myself and maybe one day teach sailing.  I think I have a unique perspective on learning to sail having never touched a sailing boat until 6 months ago!”

“I’ve been conducting Dinghy Instructor Courses for the RYA for over ten years. Alex has proven that if you put the time into personal sailing skills, linked with knowledge of the RYA National Sailing Scheme, you can achieve the Instructor Qualification.” Alan Jones

The dynamic duo of Alan and Geoff will be back in Easter for another round of Dinghy Instructor training on the Isle, but keep your eyes peeled as well as there are rumours a Senior Instructor Course may be coming to the Isle of Opportunity in 2023!

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