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Recently we have talked about online training in this time of the virus and the issue is giving rise to quite animated debates. There are some who consider it only as a temporary solution and some, who, on the contrary, feel this may become a step change in terms of organization and logistics without reducing the qualitative level of the training offered.   

Our previous article about this topic raised a remarkable interest and many other operators contacted us to let us know their activities. This should bring us to reflect on the fact that almost everybody was ready during the emergency to provide online courses. With this learning mode being so easily accessible, there are good reasons to expect that in future it could become an integral part of nautical training.

Among others, Marvélia in Dungo (Como) and Centro Velico Avigliana in Avigliana (Turin) provide online learning formats, while awaiting to complete the training directly at their nautical centres.

Again, in Milan, it is worth reporting that the local Lega Navale is organizing sailing introductory courses for children. And there is no doubt young sailors, once they have experienced this wonderful passion of ours, couldn’t wait to sail on Optimists, the funny bathtub-shaped vessels which, in spite of what may appear at first glance, have been and still are very important in the technical and marine training of our children.

As already mentioned, for the time being distance learning has been authorized on a provisional basis – at least to achieve a boat licence – as the regulation requires class attendance of both the students and the trainer. However, as is happening also in schools and universities, due to this emergency situation it has been necessary to allow for a derogation to ensure to these courses full legal validity.

At any rate, everything can be revised and reconsidered. In my opinion, it wouldn’t be unacceptable to manage remotely the theoretical contents of boat licence courses, maybe supported by introductory training on simulators.

After all, even aircraft pilots have been training (also) on flight simulators for decades. Why don’t we just use our technical skills (undoubtedly available) and a bit of imagination (free from constraints) to borrow these procedures and implement them into nautical schools?

Sooner or later, of course, the trainee must start sailing! However, to deny a chance to innovation and to a change of approach is, in my opinion, a short-sighted vision. Standards often lag behind the techniques of the time and, sometimes, to reverse the order of the factors would not be a bad thing. A change in perspective that would result in greater flexibility, less traffic and less pollution. It could be worth while.

From my window I can keep an eye on who is entering or leaving the port of Genoa. At the moment, apart from two huge cruise ships in lockdown (how impressive is to see them at night, totally dark!), no sign of life, no yachtsman (rightly) is leaving the moorings. Nothing at all.

However, this does not prevent me from thinking about when we could sail wherever we please, maybe to complete the online training mentioned above or to sail towards new destinations, sail cruising or charter sailing.

On the other hand, yachting is not only a passion but also a very important business sector involving tens of thousands of employees in various capacities.

It is therefore right to look ahead and those who can, will start planning and re-launching activities which – due to their nature or context – cannot be performed online.

We have met (virtually of course!) Simone Todeschini, CEO Founder of Water Tribe, which, through its spin-off Be Skilled offers high level training certified by the British RYA Royal Yachting Association  i.e. the absolute world’s best in the professional nautical training.  

The mission of Be Skilled, boasting a 20-year experience in the field of nautical adventure travels, is to offer top-level training to sailors and racers who wish to specialize or even to pursue a career in the boat sector gaining the prestigious and worldwide recognised Yachtmaster RYA qualification.

<<Be Skilled is a training centre acknowledged by the Royal Yachting Association. Our training courses, certificates, regattas and sailing events are addressed to all those wishing to develop greater sailing and nautical skills >> explained us Simone reviewing the training programme which includes meteorology, cruise planning, crew management up to the first RYA international Certifications of Competence <<Essential Navigation, Diesel Engine, Yachtmaster Shorebased, GMDSS-SRC, PPR>>. In short, the first steps for those aspiring to have a career in the marine sector in an international context.

 Not to mention the section dedicated to regattas, which, continues Todeschini, <<offers full immersion sailing experiences on new-generation vessels. Worth of note is also the part dedicated to business events. Drawing on an experience of more than 90 events organised in the last 10 years, a wide range of custom-tailored possibilities is available for every need. >>

In other words, there are a lot of irons in the fire, different plans and opportunities just waiting to be seized. Sailing is alive, sailing is here and can’t wait to take its place on its natural stage: the wide and open sea!

Personally, I believe sailing is a metaphor of life, when the wind changes direction. If we think about it, life is always unforeseeable, like the sea, and yet, nevertheless, we must find the strength and courage to maintain the course. And although the course may be upset by an emergency – as it happens to be these days – this has to be faced as if it were a storm. We must try to overcome it without being overwhelmed. Looking ahead, holding fast the rudder.

Meanwhile, let’s stay at home, but let’s start to look beyond our window.

Renzo Crovo