Teaching the "Intro to R19" Class
This is a "syllabus" for the "Intro to R19" class that has been taught since 2007. It is a work in progress... and likely to become an "Intro to Catboat" in the next year or two.
The information is a compilation from Alvar's notes (Alvar began the class in 2007) and of Grem Marton, who helped Alvar out during 2008 when Alvar could not make it. Hopefully others will add/edit as necessary.
The timeline for the class is as follows:
- 15 minute review in the classroom of general sailing, to make sure they have at least a clue of the most important terms:
- upwind / downwind
- talk about close hull, reaching, running, wing-on-wing
- tacking / jibing
- tiller extension
- "pushing/pulling" tiller (how it makes the boat turn)
- Its not really telling them what happens, but rather confirming that they know it (not all people with a Provisional have the concepts so strongly). If someone really does not know these things, encourage them to sail more on a Dinghy first.
- At this point I tell them something like:
- Now we're going to fully rig an R19, sail it, bring it back to the mooring, and put it away. You are not going to get an R19 rating out of these two hours, you are going to be introduced to everything you need to know in order to get it. To get an R19 rating you're going to have to do all this basically by yourself: a MITNA staff will go with you to "help", but you have to tell them everything that needs to be done.
- Go to the boats
- Tell them to be nice to the boat driver by not jumping off the skiffs
- Have them rig the boat by following your instructions
- If the wind makes it easy, show them how to leave the mooring by back-winding the gib; you have one of them handle the tiller and you do the jib at this point.
- Get to a position to show them up-wind, especially closed-hull. Talk about how you trim the jib and then the main. Show them how to use the jib tell tales. Talk about slow tacking.
- When you get "all the way up" (to a point you choose), you take the tiller and stall the wind pointing straight into the wind, then have them practice back-winding the jib. You take the tiller to force the boat to be stalled, so that they really feel how the jib can turn the boat.
- Go downwind, show a slow jibe and have them try it; go wing-on-wing.
- Usually I try to go upwind and downwind once with each student (all try upwind/downwind)
- Land at the mooring (stress to always land with the jib rolled, especially when they are beginners).
- Put the boat away. So that Wally does not get angry at me I remember to stress to tie down at least one of the jib sheets. (Aside from everything else, of course :-)
The intro class should NOT give out an R19 rating, they have to show they can do all that on their own to get the rating.
A few FAQ points
What does the R19 exam entail?
The R19 test is, IMHO, that the person taking the test can "teach" everything we do in the class to a staff member / volunteer who behaves like they know nothing. They have to show good tacks/jibes (I don't think there's a number), plus do a man-overboard like you say. The wind has to be reasonable (~12-15) to take the test, but it does not have to be "helmsmann" wind. The Rhodes test can be given out by any staff member or by volunteers with the helmsmann rating.
Tack 'slowly' (compared to the dinghy) by letting it turn in a wide radius, just never stop turning. There is no "confident fast tack" on a R19. There is a nice "smooth" tack which does not "overshoot", and a bad long/fast tack that overshoots:
- the sweet point on the edge, how to stay there in puffs
- planning where you'll point when the tack is done, e.g. 90 degrees
- communication with the crew and guests: "ready about?", "helm's alee", why it's more important on the bigger boat
- jobs and timing: main generally stays put, ready to let out; freeing
- the jib; trimming the jib; moving people
- slow tack vs. faster, confident tack, encourage toward confident, never push the tiller to the extreme
- don't "roll tack" an boat with a keel
All this is, of course, our thoughts (Alvar & Grem).