In early May 2015 Horizon Watersports had their first apprentices arrive in Nidri to start their lives as water sports instructors. They were all young, enthusiastic and very excited to now be living in Greece!
During week one they learned all of the basics of sailing, completing their Dinghy Level One - Start Sailing, and Level Two - Basic Skills. As suggested from the names these courses are aimed at getting people comfortable with all of the basic sailing techniques. By the end of the first week they were all sailing around in every direction in their nice friendly beginner boats with no assistance.
Great success; Week 1 and they can already sail!
The second week was all about pushing their sailing skills to the next level. With this we consolidated what we had learned the week before and applied it in more performance boats, introducing them to the CAT and the Laser 2000. With this they learned how to trapeze and sail with spinnakers.
This week we also introduced some presentation skills, teaching the apprentices the best ways to teach the different theory topics. Fortunately they all found this surprisingly easy with some very friendly and clear communication.
By the end of week two they were well and truly settled into the lifestyle, all coming out of their shells and clearly enjoying sailing and life on the beautiful Islands of Lefkada.
Having mastered all of the basics of sailing it was time for a change of pace. Week Three - Windsurfing. Again this meant for a pretty intense introduction where they covered Start Windsurfing and Intermediate Non-Planing back-to-back. With a little consolidation time after the courses they had all flown through the beginner stage and were looking at pushing onto smaller boards and bigger winds.
Probably the best thing about this week was the enthusiasm - a couple of the guys just fell in love with windsurfing, and with the foundation knowledge they had from sailing they found their feet very quickly.
Through this week we pushed on more with presentation skills and looked at how to run sessions and give feedback. With this the apprentices were starting to sound more and more like Instructors.
At the end of week three they did their RYA First Aid Qualification, the first of their pre-requisites for the Dinghy Instructor course.
Week Four was their final week of training in-house at Horizon. This brought them back to sailing and now consolidating the skills from the second week. The aim was to get them to a demonstration standard in all of the skills applied so far. The progression through the course so far had been so impressive, taking everything in their stride and this continued throughout. By the middle of week four they were all planing around with spinnakers up, perfecting their manoeuvres and even starting to think about different methods of teaching dinghies.
The middle of week four was their Powerboat Level Two course. This is also called your International Certificate of Competence and is a driving license for the sea. This is a great qualification to have because it means you are qualified to drive boats up to 10m long and is internationally recognised as the standard Powerboat License. Achieving this license was their second pre-requisite for their Dinghy Instructor course as using powerboats for teaching and providing safety cover is a necessity as an instructor.
Finally, to finish Week Four, we went back to those sailing skills to ensure they had the best sailing technique ready for their Pre- Assessment and Dinghy Instructor course. This was essentially a couple of days of constant on-water coaching where they practised sailing with spinnakers, sailing rudderless, all of their manoeuvres, and had a little more of a think about different coaching techniques and styles.
By the end of Week Four they were ready! Sailing beautifully, earned their Powerboat Level 2 and RYA First Aid qualification and knew all of the theory around the topics, and had even considered the best ways of teaching each.
This week was their Dinghy Instructor course. This is another week of training but now with an RYA Dinghy Coach Assessor, and is assessed continually throughout. It started out with a Pre-assessment. This is where their personal sailing skills are assessed as obviously you do need to be a good sailor to be a Dinghy Instructor. Fortunately with all their hard work this was not a worry.
Through this week they dissected the method used for instructing and looked at all of the aspects and applied the skills they had learned over the past month.
They all came back from this course feeling they had learned a lot and improved greatly in both personal sailing technique and all of the knowledge and techniques for instructing.
They also all came back as Dinghy Instructors!
With this they all have the intention to go on and teach around the world - all wanting to travel with it at least for a while. Some even intend to get onto a Start Windsurf instructor course as soon as possible.