As promised in my last Blog, I wanted to provide you all with some details on the RNZYS Youth Training Programme (YTP) and why it is such an honour to be invited to train as part of this elite programme. The YTP is the programme delivering intensive sail training for young sailors ranging in age from 16-23 based out of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. This programme has long been regarded globally as a leader in Youth Training and is the country’s most comprehensive and advanced. The 11 month course is structured to help athletes excel in all areas both on and off the water. It provides an in depth focus on advanced aspects of sailing including; racing rules, sail trim, boat maintenance, fitness, injury prevention, in addition to life skills such as goal setting and speech making. It also reveals what is necessary to sail at the next level. Upon completion of the year students will graduate or reapply for a consecutive year or years.
Over the past 29 years the YTP has trained over 500 highly competitive sailors. Many have achieved at the very highest level of our sport including America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, World Match Racing events, Offshore Sailing, National Championships, Extreme Sailing Series – and many many more! This programme is heavily supported by RNZYS with a limited number of students receiving a NZ$6,000 subsidy to offset training, coaching, uniform and Club Membership. The programme also covers the costs of many of the major Regattas the team compete in, both locally and Internationally.
As a spectator, it looks like a pretty good deal for the athletes: the opportunity to sail in one of the best training programmes in the World while being heavily subsidised to train and compete. As a participant, I've come to appreciate that sometimes, things are never as easy as they seem.
The programme is capped at 50 athletes and runs nearly every weekend, both Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am - 5pm, 11 months of the year. During the preparation or pre-season phase we are judged on absolutely everything - every day! Process goals such as boat handling, fitness, theory, communication, maintenance and attendance. Race performance goals including fleet racing, match racing and harbour courses. And these just represent the main categories. Each category has a subset of evaluation protocols against which every participant is quantitatively assessed. Even poor performance is evaluated in the form of demerit points for a multitude of sins including tardiness, poor behaviour, unsportsmanlike conduct, lack of attention during lectures, failure to derig properly or poor organisation skills.
Whilst the format is strict and the evaluation criteria extensive, I find it both challenging and motivating. There is certainly a sense of accomplishment when you achieve a good result and score well within the group; and a genuine reality check when you perform below your expectations and subsequently get beaten on the scoreboard. There is nothing quite like a competition to bring out the best in performance.
We are only in the first month of the current programme with a long way to go but so far so good. I'm currently on top of our in-house leader board, mainly due to a pretty good fitness base built up in the gym, but it is still all to play for with many new challenges ahead. Despite the upheaval in moving over to Auckland to be part of this programme, I'm glad I made the decision and it reinforces my belief that you have to take advantage of opportunities in life as they present themselves.
Thank you as always for supporting me as part of my journey and I look forward to updating you on 'life as a gym junkie' in my next blog.