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What is Green Fleet?
Green Fleet is a club-based junior (primary school age) sailing activity for kids who have completed Tackers 3 – Sailing Fast, or a similar level of junior Learn to Sail program. It represents Level 4 of the Sailing Pathway. It is usually supervised by an appropriately qualified Australian Sailing Instructor and takes place away from the main club sailing fleet.
Green Fleet is based on evidence that primary school age kids are more likely to be retained in sport, if they have the opportunity to participant in a fun and social way, where competition is gradually introduced, and does not supersede building confidence and friendships through sailing. The structure of Green Fleet is less competitive and more fun/games-based and social – just like Tackers.
Many other sports use modified rules extensively before progressing to the full rules at the youth (secondary school) age group. In some sport the opportunity to use modified rules continues for those participants who do not want to progress to the full version of the sport e.g., touch rugby has developed its whole sport around modifying the rules of the rugby codes.
Important to the overall Green Fleet program is the opportunity to children and their families to continue to participant in the social activities at the club and develop a sense of belonging within the club. Being part of Green Fleet should be as much about loving being at the club as it is about enjoying the sport.
Why is it called Green Fleet?
The term ‘Green Fleet’ is used internationally and is recognised for denoting children who are ‘green’ to the concept of racing. The international presence of Green Fleet is important it means that if more yacht clubs in Australia can develop Green Fleet programs we can use the international guidelines for modified/introductory racing and strengthen the whole sailing pathway by investing in this step, which provides a gradual transition from children learning to sailing to becoming active racers at their club.
Where does Green Fleet fit?
Green Fleet is the transitionary level between the top of the Tackers or learn to sail programs – learn to race, and ongoing participation in club racing, or other forms of club-based sailing participation. Some participants will want to be able to continue participating in Green Fleet as a social form of sailing because they don’t want to move onto racing.
How does it work?
Green Fleet is a combination of games / fun based sailing and “novice” racing. For example some time might be spent sailing around to or to a destination (e.g., a small island, a beach or a permanent mark) and sometime might be spent sailing around a triangular course. Children likes to use their imagination and Green Fleet session will invite them to see sailing to a destination as an adventure. All the time the games are being played they sub-consciously pick up the skills of racing without actually being asked to win a race. Some starts might be “off the beach” or other novelty approaches, and some might be from a boat /line on the water. Similarly with finishes.
Any course racing should be short, probably around 20 minutes is the ideal time for any novice race for juniors.
Who delivers Green Fleet?
Active coaching is encouraged in Green Fleet. The session is more likely to be supervised by an Instructor rather than a Race Official. The Instructor should be helping the sailors enjoy the experience, improve their skills, provide feedback, and develop a sense of team work in the group of sailors. Children will respond best to those instructors they may have already been taught to sail by in their Tackers or Learn to Sail programs. Instructors with lots of energy and a desire to see children progress at their own pace, and to their own goals are most likely to have the greatest rapport with the sailors and most likely to see their sailors retained in the sport.
What’s the difference between Tackers Fleet and Green Fleet?
Tackers Fleet is the practice and play sessions that kids might do between the levels of the Tackers Program, whereas Green Fleet is for kids who have completed Tackers 3 and want to practice and progress their sailing skills to the next level.
What boats should be used?
Using the boats the kids have learnt their sailing in is encouraged. Parents should not be expected to buy boats at this level, clubs should be still supplying the boats. If kids want to try other boats, that’s good, and if parents want to buy boats that is OK, but at this level they should be strictly one design. Kids can progress to other boats, at the club racing level, and even then clubs are encouraged to have boats for kids whose parents do not wish to purchase.
Parents often need help understanding their boat options. Clubs need to think about their physical resources and decide how to structure the club’s sailing activities to give opportunities for Green Fleet programs to be available to meet the demand from children who are flowing through the Tackers or Learn to Sail programs.
The most important thing about Green Fleet is that kids have come out of programs that are based on fun and games based learning. That is what has encouraged them to participate in the sport.
Green Fleet should be based on the same principle rather than competition. That does not mean that kids don’t want to see who can go fastest and win. But it does mean the emphasis is on participation, encouragement and fun NOT results.
The Blue Book and the Racing Rules of Sailing should not be introduced at Green Fleet Level. They only become relevant at the Club Racing Level.
Avoid Green Fleet being conducted on the same Race Course as club racing. It’s OK to be in the vicinity, but generally the course will be much shorter, smaller and closer to shore.
Retention of kids in sailing is all about them having fun with friends (even more so than adults), rather than competition. It's about a clear Pathway that progresses their skills and builds their confidence about when to take the next step. Green Fleet provides that step, between learning to sail and race and club racing.
Click here for PDF Version of Explanation of Green Fleet.