Basically there are two different scenarios: training and regatta. Let’s start with the last one.
The first thing I always do with my sailors is a deep boat check: hull finishing, sails, foils, fix and running rig, alignment, symmetry… to correct whatever that might be wrong. The boat must always be in a perfect condition, and especially for the competition!
Back to shore after competing
Once in a regatta venue I go out with my rib to analize sailing conditions. Back to the shore, I check my sailors´ boats and have a meeting with them to comment Sailing Instructions and to prepare a strategy.
On the way to the regatta field (and also before each race) I follow each of my sailors' boats with my rib to help them to set the best tuning for new conditions. Of course, I always film starts and finishings.
When I have training with sailors for the first time we start with a trial sailing in order to analyze their skills, their physical conditions, how they do manoeuvres and their movements on board. Thus I see the things to be improved and if there is something to be corrected. Then I prepare for them a tailored training plan considering their necessities, their wishes and the time we have.
When there is a possibility some of my most experienced sailors may help me with big groups by giving an example of maneuvers execution on board. Other sailors can learn by watching them, as they are demonstrating a really high technique, sailing level and manoeuvers performance on their boats.
Exercises, manoeuvers, boat control, everything has to be trained
Trainings in the water are never too long. If we have only one session we are in the water about 3 hours; if two sessions - not longer than 2 hours each. This is because sailors’ capacity of learning finishes much earlier than people maight think. We do starts, mark roundings, tacks, gybes, 360ºs, short regattas, etc, In the end of the day together with sailors we analize sailing videos.
Time to rest and to recharge batteries. Training sessions should never be too long or forgetting the sailors necessities. Overtrainng can be as bad as not training enough.
I always teach my sailors the key points of what they have to do on board: "what, how, when", but I specially want them to understand the most important one: the "why". The better they understand it, the better they will do the other points and the better results they will get. I always tell them "Sailing is not a religion; it is not to believe, but to know and to understand."
What I intend to do is to help my sailors to be independent. They should learn to be able to do correct things and take correct decisions by themselves. A coach only gives them support and information. Sailors are the only protagonists of their races! ;)
It´s a quite common situation when coaching beginners goes easily and smoothly, but when their level raises, which usually happens soon, it becomes difficult for an instructor to follow their progression. This may happen when a coach basically teaches what he/she knows and remembers from their times, while in reality things may have changed a lot since then.
Sailing is a constantly changing science, especially recently. Techniques and theories which not long time ago would have been considered a sin have now replaced some that were believed as the absolute truth.
In order to remain competitive coaches should continuously update their knowledge. Unfortunately many of them simply forget about it... or do not know how to do it.
Due to my frequent contacts with the Spanish Olympic Team and my friendship with great designers like Julian Bethwaite and Mariusz Juszczak, I have the fantastic chance of learning new concepts and technical issues as soon as they appear.
TWorking with some Polish coaches
Quite frequently clubs/ federations invite me to work with their coaches. I have shared my experience and knowledge with professionals from Russia, Poland, Italy, Germany, Spain... No problem, I enjoy doing it :-)
What to do
First of all a good coach should know a boat perfectly (rig and battens tensions, heel tune, trimming, tuning, etc.). Then a deep knowledge of physical reasons behind the things we teach to our sailors is important. Also how to adapt mmanoeuvres to sailors’ conditions and morphology. A coach should be able to measure masts and foils and help sailors to choose the correct stuff for them. If necessary we work with this too.
It´s important for a good coach to be aware of new concepts, materials and technics coming as a result of the latest investigations. For example, thngs like "design wind", the Fowler effect, apparent winds in the different sails and their different parts, speed polars, trimming, sails theory...
Match Race technique; it's no just speed
As I said before, I always teach my sailors the main points: "what, when, how..." and especially "why". With coaches the "why" is the most important subject where I dedicate most of the time.
The best way to prepare a coach is when it coincides with a clinic. Water and classroom sessions together with sailors, and some saparate ones for coaches as I prefer to keep sailors’ minds free of diagrams, draws, vectors, equations, etc. They are useful for coaches but could result confusing and even boring for sailors.
Muriel Schröder and Lea Einbrodt (GER) making dry manoeuvers