“To get started in the sport of sailing, what is needed is above all attitude”


Ramón Palao is a coach at the Monte Real Yacht Club Sailing School. His resume says that he is a Level 1 Sailing Technician by the Galician Sailing Federation, and those who know him say that he is a responsible and methodical coach, very involved in the learning of his students.

After having sailed for years in Switzerland, he came to Galicia to transmit the knowledge acquired to all those boys and girls who want to enter the world of sailing. He does it every weekend in the bay of Baiona, in the introductory courses that are taught in Monte Real.

In their classes, both at sea and on land, children’s learning goes far beyond merely nautical issues. Practicing sailing the little ones gain self-confidence, learn to relate to other children, develop their love for the sport and acquire environmental awareness.

Ramón, tell us, how is the work with the children you teach to sail?

I always try to convey the widest possible idea of the world of sailing. In addition to a sport practice, sailing is a culture, an art and a technique that connects with the other sea trades. I think this helps me to carry out my work, which is none other than instilling this hobby in young sailors. In this way, they understand from an early age that practicing sailing offers them a multitude of possibilities, both present and future.

On the other hand, the facilities and means that we have at the Sailing School and at the club, as well as the cast of professionals who accompany me every day, make the job much easier. Obviously, working with children is a delicate and complex task, but it can be very rewarding to the extent that, as an instructor, you discover that it cannot be taught if it is not learned at the same time. And that is something that my students remind me every time we go to sea.

The sensations must be very exciting for them… How do they experience those first moments at sea?

It’s a real roller coaster! My classes last four hours and, in one morning, the children can go from euphoria to apathy, from laughter to tears, but, most importantly, they continually improve themselves and generally have a great time.

Sometimes I have to put a bit of perspective to realize what all this means. The sea and the boats are always something exceptional, which reports unique sensations; children love the water, swimming, seeing the fish, etc.

In short, sailing is a healthy practice that brings together all the benefits of outdoor activity. Therefore, one of my goals is for children to learn to know their environment better, but it is also important to teach them to respect all of this and to act with caution and safety.

At the MRCYB Sailing School you work with children from 7 years old, is that the best age to start in the world of sailing?

As with other facets of life, there is no single age to perform certain activities. Fortunately, the School is equipped with a fleet of boats that allows us to adapt to the different characteristics and needs of sailors.

Younger children, for beginners, can sail the Optimist, individually or in groups, on doubles boats, such as the Cadete, or on the Omega, which are very dynamic and fun school boats.

Obviously, at these ages, they have to be looked after with special care, but the immense capacity they have to acquire the necessary aptitudes never ceases to amaze me. And I think I’m not the only one who is surprised!

There are many fathers and mothers to whom sailing still seems like an elitist sport, destined only for a few. What is true or false about this statement?

As I already said, sailing is much more than a sport. In Galicia, as in other coastal lands, sailing and boats have a long history and tradition. It is a pity that, socially, this is unknown and lost, and that the pageantry of yachts and elites predominates.

But I also believe that this is a prejudice that the facts deny, as in the case of our Sailing School, which is breaking all barriers to bring sailing closer to as many people as possible. To get started in sailing, what is needed above all is attitude.

In sailing, as happens with many sports that are practiced in childhood, children acquire certain values that will help them later throughout their lives. In what way does learning to navigate help the little one to learn to live?

I dare say that is the big question. At least, the one I do very often. I think that, connecting with what we have been saying, sailing provides very valuable qualities and that, in some way, we all have in the imaginary: persistence, courage, sensitivity, respect, etc. There is so much literature inspired by the sea! But it is that it feels very good to be in contact with the elements of our environment, the sun, the winds, the clouds, etc.

Sailing, for children, is an extracurricular activity that allows them to be in contact with things that are often unknown even to adults. In fact, sailing is like “riding a bicycle”: once it is acquired, it is valid for all boats. We hope that it will help the children to discover other seas.

The introductory dinghy sailing courses at the Monte Real Yacht Club taught by Ramón take place on Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. To enroll in them it is not necessary to be a member of the club. The only requirement is to be over 7 years old and know how to swim.

It is an interview with Rosana Calvo

If you have any questions for Ramón, you can write to us at prensa@mrcyb.com and we will send it to him