Pittwater schools sailing Oppi’s

27 October 2006

The ‘Oppi’ by Steve Bond’s company OziOpti, has been introduced for entry level junior students in a very successful schools sailing program on Pittwater. This program has been running for four years targeting primary schools, and is coordinated by the Alfred’s Sailing Academy at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on behalf of all the clubs on Pittwater (Avalon Sailing Club, Bayview Yacht Racing Association), making use of all of the available facilities.

Last Friday was the first day of sailing for term 4, and saw 144 children from five different schools participating, with other schools keen to get in the action.

The Pittwater program mostly targets children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the thrill of sailing, and aims for them to have a fun and safe experience, ultimately wanting to come back for more. Emphasis is on participation, and by ensuring the fun and safe aspects; retention in the program has been strong.

The Oppis are used as an alternative to Pacer dinghies for entry level sailing (generally 8-9 year olds) to give the kids a more independent experience, and not requiring an instructor onboard.

Funding for the new fleet of Oppis has been provided by the Newport Foundation, which has been specifically established to support primary schools sailing and has developed the model on which the Pittwater program is based.

Newport Foundation has a clear goal to have sailing as a viable summer sport elective for every primary school student in Australia, and is working towards providing the infrastructure for this to become a reality.

The Oppi is the same boat that Sail-World wrote about last month at Mornington Yacht Club which now boasts almost 20 junior sailing dinghies, up from a solitary one last year.

Oppi fleets are now also appearing as the training boat of choice at McCrae, Sandringham, St.Kilda and Black Rock in Victoria and, RQ, Southport and Hamilton Island in Queensland.

Steve Bonds’ Tackers program shares many of the Newport Foundation goals
Bond comments, 'We already have the club facilities and the waterways which typically are under utilised on weekdays, so if a club is serious about building junior ranks Tackers can help supply the boats with local business and some national sponsorship.

'If the schools program expands, as indications are that it will, then our biggest challenge will be to find enough instructors.

'We are looking at ways to run scholarships for our intermediates on a HECS type system to give the Yachting Australia Instructors / Tackers credentials. This would be a good outcome and give a lot of tertiary students, some part time income whilst they undertake their education'.

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