Should Couples Take Sailing Classes Together?

I was reading a comment on a sailing discussion board;

“I (and others) would recommend that couples who attend sailing schools be split up (different boats, or different times), so each person gains the self-confidence that comes with dealing with the various situations by themselves instead of deferring to the dominant partner.”

Self-confidence is critical, but if you want to sail together you also have to have confidence in your partner. You can build that by recognizing each others new skills and practicing them together.  In a structured learning environment with capable  instructors, how to handle the issue of “deferring to the dominant partner”  is part of  learning to work as a team.

I think the quote above describes poor instruction rather than the ability to learn together. Margie and I do have the advantage of  instructing one couple at a time but even with the  larger class sizes and a having a single instructor that is typical of most  sailing schools it should be possible to have a good experience. When we are teaching couples there are times when a gentle reminder to let their partner “do it”  may be in order. The flip side is after seeing your spouse dock the boat, trim the sails or navigate a tight channel you will gain confidence in their abilities. That confidence means that both partners are part of the decision making process that will make sailing fun and comfortable for both of you.

One Response

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  1. jeffgrossman
    jeffgrossman September 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    We believe the original comment reflects the traditional classes of one instructor and many students where it is more challenging to “manage” a dominant partner. We agree with Harold that even in the traditional environment, a good instructor can manage these issues.
    When Jean and I (Jeff) teach Couple-to-Couple, we spend time with the couple together, and time when Jean and the woman student focus one thing while I and the male student work on something else. There are also times when we switch. Many men may feel reluctant to admit lack of knowledge in an area (like engines) to another man, but may let their guard down a bit with Jean. Also, the woman learning from Jeff can see that she can team sail with a man as an equal partner.
    With the approach of one couple teaching one couple these issues are managed directly and the end goal, the couple sailing together as a team, is always in mind.

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