We speak to Dan JASPERS, who has just joined the ISAF Secretariat as the new Training and Development Manager, to find out a little more about his background, his new role and initial aims.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background before you joined ISAF?
I trained as Graphic Designer (BA Hons degree) then worked as Chief Instructor for Local Education Authority Outdoor Centre in Chichester Harbour for a year before going on to train as a Secondary School Teacher on a dual route course at University of Bangor in North Wales, in Outdoor Education and Art / Design (PGCE). Following this, I worked at an all-boys school in Southampton for a year as Art and PE teacher then moved to a College in Chichester to lecture on a BTEC National Diploma Course in Sport Studies.
I then worked as Bowman and First mate on a couple of Corporate Charter ex-America's Cup (San Diego 1995 IACC 24m) racing yachts based out of Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, for two years. Three years ago I finished on the Cup boats and started with LDC Racing Sailboats, building the RS Fevas. This winter work suited the purpose of plugging a cash flow problem but I needed to be putting something back in. The sales manager and I had a chat and after much discussion about a new role for me, the job of Training and Fleet Sales Manager was created, responsible for the handling of all Training related fleet sales both in the UK and abroad.
Recently I have also been appointed as one of a handful of Volvo Champion Clubs Coaches, delivering bespoke training to young race coaches and club volunteers. This scheme has been very successful due to the nature of who it targets. Bettering the standard of coaching and instruction keeps people in the sport for longer and develops the feed of grass roots participants into national/international racing.
What's your background in sailing?
I started sailing at the age of 14, although I'm not from a racing background. My mother went on a yacht trip and loved it so much that it inspired me to go to a local centre on a subsidized course with the regional Youth Co-ordinator. I loved it and went back the following year.
From that start, I gradually built up the RYA logbook hours to enable me to get my certificates of competence and once ready, decided to do the Dinghy Instructor Course aged 17. I worked every summer at various local clubs throughout my college/uni studies and gained enough experience to pass my Senior Instructor and Powerboat Instructor courses.
In 2004, I was invited to become an RYA Coach Assessor after successful completion of the National Course. Since then I have been trying to develop my racing, competing in Flying Fifteen Europeans, RS700 Nationals, RS400 Nationals, RS Vision Nationals, Open Regattas in Laser 4000s, Cowes Week in RS Elite and RS K6. I also skipper yachts for local companies in corporate regattas such as the Outward Bound/Easynet Diamond Cup, which I have been involved with for two years now. My experience in dinghy sailing has helped the transition to large yachts a great deal.
I enjoy sailing for the sake of sailing and nothing gives me more pleasure than being out on the water seeing others using this most precious of natural resources.
Do you still sail much now?
Personal sailing is getting harder to make happen as I coach a great deal at weekends. As a teacher and Facilitator of learning, it's more about getting youngsters and adults into and retaining them in sailing. This said however, my standard has to be high in order to demonstrate skills, which does mean that I set time aside for me as often as possible. The greatest part of my job is that I get to try out all classes. I don't compete in a race circuit at present as I am in-between dinghies. Once I have settled into my new role at ISAF, this will no doubt change.
Training and development is a massive area so could you give us an idea of which areas you'll be focussing on initially?
Connect to Sailing is the big project to start off. I am keen to get the Learn to Sail Training Programme into MNAs that have expressed the wish to come on board with this exciting new venture. Completing the final version of the LSTP guidelines will take precedence in coming weeks and also the search for and employment of ISAF Instructor Trainers and Centre Inspectors to implement and monitor the standards worldwide.
Do you have any initial goals?
Facilitating the development of a global network of sail training centres, providing inclusive and holistic educational experiences in sailing boats, accessible by all, without boundaries.
Any message you want to get out there to MNAs/Classes/young sailors?
I was inspired to learn more by an amazing Instructor when I was young and have since spent my life trying to get as many people as I can out onto the water. Sailing encourages teamwork, promotes equality and achievement no matter what the age or ability. It develops problem-solving skills, nurtures the fundamentals of respect and builds on the foundations of a healthy life for body and mind. Access to this most wonderful of resources should not be limited and I will dedicate my time and energy to making it possible for all persons in all countries to benefit from the guidance and tuition of qualified instructors, capable of imparting their skills, knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport in a safe and fun environment. My job at ISAF was created in order to help you to help yourselves. If you have an idea about how you could be part of the future, please get in touch.
You can contact Dan JASPERS at dan (at) isaf.co.uk or via our Contact ISAF page here.