Collaboration between the Turkish Federation and the 420 Class developed from the successful 420 European Championships held at Istanbul Yelken Kulübü in 2007. Nazli Imre, President of the Turkish Sailing Federation, spoke at the time of the importance of spreading exposure to international competition for young Turkish sailors, their clubs and supporters. "It was a huge step, to stage a European event here, the first for the 420 Class", but "this was a great opportunity for youth sailors, and for the local people…..I was particularly delighted that a third of the volunteers on the water came from other clubs and other parts of Turkey….It was important to achieve a wider exposure and an appreciation of such an international event for the 420 as a youth class".
Following the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in July 2010, where new 420s were supplied by Nautivela, the Federation took the opportunity to purchase a fleet of 420s to add to their existing small stock. The aim is to encourage young sailors by providing a double-handed pathway from the Optimist to Olympic competition. Mugla has been selected as the region for the Turkish Olympic Sailing Team to prepare for the 2016 Olympics, and so this was the region chosen to first focus on for this initiative.
The Federation approached the International 420 Class for help in kick-starting the process, by providing an experienced international coach to lead a Coaching and Training Camp. Planned as the first of a series, the objective was to develop and promote the 420 outside Istanbul. The approach was to bring an experienced international coach to work with a group of local coaches and sailors for a week's programme of practical learning, both on and off the water.
Thirty-nine young Turkish sailors, mostly from the Optimist or Laser 4.7, took the opportunity to get sailing and racing in a double-handed, trapeze boat, while ten coaches joined in to help, but also to gain experience with the 420 themselves. This was held at Bodrum, and was a collaboration between the Class, the Federation and the Mu?la Province.
Selma Altay Rodopman explained: 'At the Turkish Sailing Federation, we are aiming to develop a new generation of sailors for the double-handed boats. Our main goal is to start this in Mu?la and then promote this in other clubs, in other cities too. This will enable a steady growth in the number of sailors coming into the 420. So, holding this clinic has had a significant importance for us'.
The camp was led by Riccardo de Felice, a senior 420 coach with experience at coaching at club, national and international levels. Most recently, he led the Italian 420 coaches for one their most successful years at the World and Junior European Championships. He has worked with many other coaches internationally and participated in the 420 Coaches' Seminars led by Jim Saltonstall.
For all concerned, this was a new experience. For the sailors, it was their first time in 420s! For most of the Turkish coaches, it provided an opportunity to gain greater understanding of the 420, the skills needed for racing a double-handed, trapeze and spinnaker boat and how youth sailors can be developed through racing it. With the large numbers of boats and sailors, the coaching team (which included Ayda Gürsel of Istanbul Sailing Club, recently returned from a 420 Class Coaching Seminar in Japan) was essential! For Riccardo de Felice, leading this clinic was a very tall order - especially as many of the sailors did not speak English! Everyone was on a steep learning curve, but the feedback from the sailors confirmed the success.
Riccardo de Felice describes the programme: 'The first day we spent all day rigging up the nineteen available boats and learning how to prepare a boat for racing. Unfortunately, next day we had no wind, and so we decided to study some video of my own sailing team. We talked a lot about boat handling, including using a boat on shore. In the afternoon, there was practical on-the-water experience, simulating capsize and righting the boat. Friday started with a session on boat tuning. Finally, we had 13 knots of breeze and a first sailing session on the water! Here, I was trying my best to build the sailors' confidence with the boat - tacking and jibing (no spinnaker at this stage) and first experience of using the trapeze.
'On Saturday, we started with a lesson about how to sail the spinnaker and, also, about how to round marks. Again, there was 13-15 knots and so, the sailors had a first opportunity try the spinnaker, and we started to work around a small race course. For Sunday, we worked on starts and on race strategy. The on-the-water session included handling the boat in starts, tacks and jibes, and finished the day with more practice around a race course. On Monday, we started by discussing the use of the compass, how to structure and plan a season's training and racing programme, and then championship preparation. The final session on the water involved a lot of races, three with recorded results.
'During the week, I tried my best to give as much information as possible to the coaches who worked with me. They were the only ones that could translate to the sailors. Considering that none of the sailors had sailed a 420 before, their level of ability was pretty good. At the end of the camp all the sailors knew a good deal about the 420 and had been introduced to the basics of boat handling on the water. But, with so many sailors and the lack of previous experience of the boat, it was not possible to cover everything.
'The Bodrum Sailing Club and the Turkish Federation were very supportive, and I received a lot of help from the other coaches, who I hope were able to learn from the experience. I am particularly grateful to Meral Günday (a member of the Board of the Turkish Sailing Federation with responsibility for the 420 Project). The biggest issues were the large number of sailors - 42 sailors and 19 boats - and without previous experience in the 420 - while most of the sailors did not speak English! However, I am very happy that it was a great experience, and I think it was appreciated. Certainly, there was some great feedback from the sailors about their experience of participating in the clinic".
The hospitality provided by the club was very good. Significant thanks must go to the Bodrum Municipal Sailing Club, putting its staff, coach boats and full facilities at the disposal of the coaches and participants, thus assuring the great success of the clinic. The Federation were also very grateful to Serdar Ah?skali, from the Mugla Directorate for Youth and Sport, who organised the flow of information between the clubs.
Feedback from the sailors suggested that the clinic had been a great success: "It was my first time in a boat with two people......At first I found it hard to coordinate with the crew, but, by the end of tha camp, it was much easier......I love so much the 420 boat. It's different from the Optimist. We can trapeze and, we have a jib; we work in a team......It was a great camp, and I think we all learned a lot ……. My job on the boat is as the crew. And my jobs are the jib, spinnaker and trapeze. I love the trapeze, and I can feel like a bird…… The Italian coach, Riccardo, was very helpful and knowledgeable.......I and many of my sailor friends also start to sail the 420. And it's so good to learn this boat with my friends!.....I think that it is a fun boat, and I will enjoy competing in it".
Selma Altay Rodopman, Turkish 420 Class Secretary at the Turkish Sailing Federation, commented: "This project has been team work, starting from the top with the Federation President's dedication to improving youth sailing, including clubs, coaches and sailors and administrators. The Turkish Sailing Federation, its funding and extensive support, has made this possible. When we consider that we had a fleet consisting of nine boats a year ago, in November 2009 and that we now have a twenty-boat fleet, I think we have been able make an improvement. All coaches and sailors are also strongly motivated, seeing that they had been given the privilege to be a part of an internationally recognised and sponsored clinic by the Class Association. I do strongly believe that this clinic will have been an eye-opener for many of our sailors. I would like to thank everyone in the 420 Class involved in making this happen in Bodrum".
International 420 Vice President, José Massapina replied, "we were pleased to be able to respond to the Turkish Sailing Federation's invitation to arrange for a senior coach to lead this camp for potential 420 sailors and their coaches. The approach taken here adds a new dimension to our own Class Development Strategy and will, I hope, make a useful contribution to the growth of youth sailing in Turkey".
International 420 Class Association website - www.420.org
Turkish Sailing Federation website - www.tyf.org.tr
ISAF Youth Worlds Website - www.isafyouthworlds.com
Nautivela website - www.nautivela.com