I'm pasting your last post in here and I'll try to answer each part seperately:
I realize I don't have nearly the experience teaching beginners that you have, but my experience for newbies is much less happy than what you describe.
Perhaps the differences are due to differences in what you teach vs what we've learned from more than 1000 students over the last 10 years in the ATOW program.
With the Retro Ripper rigs and (older) Start boards, newbies get up and going pretty quickly, but they (a) still fall off on the tacks,
OK.... this my be an area of vast differences in what we teach.
We found (with wide boards in particular) that the "old school" "flag tack" and stepping forward around the mast foot do not work very well.
We teach our students to rake the rig all the way back until the foot of the sail rests on the deck of the board near where the back footstraps would go. We try to get them to progressively rake the rig back and sheet it in more and more until it's past the centerline of the board. This "drives" the board up through the eye of the wind and a little beyond. That "completes" the first part of the tack.
Then they are taught to "step over" the mast which is raked all the way back. We try to get them to leave the sail/rig resting on the foot of the sail on the deck.
We even have them (on the simulator) hold the mast between their knees/thighs when they are facing the rear of the board with on foot on each side of the mast and centerline (fore and aft here) of the board.
If they don;t move/step forward of the mast foot they stay in the wider and more stable part of the board. They rarely fall in the water.
Then, to complete the tack, they hold the mast in the new front hand and pivot/lean the rig forward to turn the board the other 80-90 deg. needed to come to a fully neutral "T" positon with the rig.
Then we have then bring the rig up and across the centerline (so they can see the nose of the board through the sail) and sheet in with only 2 fingers of the back hand, reaching straight forward from their new back shoulder.
and get frustrated with having to try to lift the rig at whatever random angle it fell into the water at;
If they are taught to pull the rig straight up, and hold the mast in the new front hand, allowing it to pivot freely, they can then lean the rig forward or aft until the board turns across the wind and the clew of the rig is straight out (perpendicular) to the centerline.
and (b) still slide downwind (both because they can't "feel" the right angle to sail and because of (a)).
We teach them to feel the wind, and to sail "across the wind" from the "T" position which
prevents them from sailing off down wind. We teach them how to "steer" the board to the "T" position on the simulator and then again on the water in the first 5 min.
And, we teach them to sheet in very slowly and only about 5 deg. by rotating their upper body and shoulders so they stay in the middle of the board and balanced.
We try to get them to NOT move their feet at all.
Also we teach them that they need to have both feet behind the mast before they add any power to the rig.
Most of the people I teach take 2-3 sessions before they're confidently sailing out across the lake and back to their starting point.
With the above techniques, in 5-12 knots of wind, on a sail appropriately sized for the student, they seem to master sailing out and back in about 5-15 minutes.
Another thing I've added to the mix that really helps their confidence is use of a "tow board" with a tether line (3 ft of bungee in the middle) to do a couple of good things.
1/ They can't sail off downwind because the tether keeps them somewhat "aligned" with the tow board.
2/ If they are having issues about what to do, they simply "imitate" the instructor on the tow board about 20 feet ahead of them.
3/ They gain alot of confidence when you tell them their new "mission" is to sail well enough to keep slack in the tether line.
They focus on the tether line and soon forget to look at their hands and feet so they begin to do things far more "naturally".
4/ As soon as they can sail along with slack in the tether, we untie the tether and sail with them to ensure that they can sail across the wind on their own.
5/ Then we let them go and about 95% are able to sail out and back to where they started completely on their own.
I wonder if part of the problem is that I should get one of the newer boards with a kick-down centerboard(?).
What fins are you using in your 2001 Start?
I've found that a slalom fin about 40 cm long works far better than the funny fin that's supplied with the Start. Even another DC 40 or Stock Start 40 cm rear fin works tons better than the long silly fin they supplied.
We use 38-40 cm cleaver type fins on the back.
The stock Start center fin is too long front to back and actually seems to keep the board from turning well when tacking and jibing, and is no better upwind that a fairly narrow blade slalom 40 cm.
What's your favorite gear to teach a newbie adult to sail?
2001 Start, Hypersonic 38-42 cm block tip fin as a center fin, stock DC 40 Start fin in the rear.
Sailworks Retro Ripper 2.5-4.2 rig (depends on the sailor size and strength.
5-12 knots of sideshore or side onshore wind.
Oh, and on the "Tow board" I use the same size or one size bigger rig than the student has.
If they are on a 2.5 I use a 3.3...if a 3.3, I use a 4.2...if a 4.2, I use a 5.0.
The idea is not to "tow" them, just be able to stay ahead and give them something to chase after as they work on getting "slack" in the tether.
My typical learner is 150-200 pounds, 30-40 years old, reasonably but not superbly fit. What conditions do you like best?
We've had all shapes and sizes in students. sometimes we use smaller Starts for the little ones, but mostly they can all learn very nicely on the big wide Start.
With the'01/'02 Starts, I often kneel in front of the mast foot with small kids.
They learn alot, and their mom's are much happier with the "instructor on board".
It's difficult for moms (and dads sometimes too) to send their prized little ones out on the water.
We can usually find 5 knots easily (but it's flukey, so we don't usually bother), and 10 knots if we wait a few days.
I agree =< 5 knots it's really hard to teach as their is no pressure in the sail to do much of anything.
6 knots-12 knots (with careful student to sail size matching in the 9-12 knot range) works the best as the water is flat, and the boards actually move pretty nicely.
15 knots usually leads to a bad experience, because the waves knock them off the board while they're figuring out how to use the sail to balance, so I go sail on my own on those days .
Good idea John..... you need to sail as well.
Seriously, I am not being critical with the above suggestions, we need everyone out teaching that we can get.
But try the raking the rig all the way back to the deck of the board, and then step over the mast tacking techniques yourself.
I think you will find that it works pretty well.
Hope this helps,
Last edited by Roger; 15th July 2009 at 08:14 AM.