Northern Lights Sailing Club – SKIPPER QUALIFICATION PROCESS
The Northern Lights Sailing Club is continually interested in improving the safety and sailing skills of its membership, and in particular, in the skills of the men and women who voluntarily serve as skippers on NLSC Sponsored trips. This document has been developed to provide a definitive process for the evaluation and qualification of new skippers and the identification of the information and skills necessary for such qualification. No one may serve as a skipper on a NLSC Sponsored trip who has not been approved as a Club Qualified Skipper as per this document. An exception applies to those members listed as approved by the Board of Directors and “Grandfathered In.”
It should be understood by all club members that the NLSC does not have an on-the-water checkout but relies exclusively on the truthfulness and accuracy of recommending skippers assessment and the truth and accuracy of the prospective skipper’s resume for the Trip Coordinator’s and Board of Director’s assessment of that individual.
To aid in a prospective skipper’s assessment, the Northern Lights Sailing Club (NLSC) has developed the attached skipper resume and recommendation form. While the forms are not specific checklist items per se for qualification they include skills and knowledge that all Club Skippers must possess. As such, they form the basis for continuous improvement over time.
The qualification process has three basic steps as identified below:
Step 1: Recommendation for entry into the evaluation process
Step 2: Sailing as “Acting Skipper” on an NLSC Sponsored event.
Step 3: Board review and approval
Step 1 Recommendation for entry into the evaluation process involves the prospective skipper obtaining recommendations from at least 2 NLSC Skippers that state that he or she has clearly demonstrated the knowledge, skills, leadership and appropriate emphasis on safety required to be a Skipper. These recommendations should be based on joint sailing experiences where the prospective skipper has sailed with the NLSC Skipper for sufficient time needed for accurate evaluation. The Skipper providing a recommendation must have had NLSC Qualified Skipper status for at least one year or have sailed as a NLSC Qualified Skipper on at least two trips, whichever takes longer, before being eligible to provide a recommendation. Step 1 insures that the individuals who are to be evaluated in Step 2 of the qualification process have an excellent chance for success. The written recommendations shall be forwarded to the NLSC Trip Coordinator. The recommendations shall indicate particular strengths and weaknesses for the Trip coordinator and Board of Directors to use as background information while evaluating the candidate. The Trip Coordinator will maintain a record of recommendations and will inform all Board Members of an individual’s desires to proceed to Step 2 once the minimum number of recommendations has been collected. It is not necessary that these recommendations be secured at the same time. In very rare cases, it is possible that the Trip Coordinator, with the concurrence of the Commodore and the Vice Commodore, may suspend the requirement for two recommendations to enter an individual in the Step 2 review process but must have at least one recommendation. Reducing the number of recommendations must be based on the needs of the Club and only after a sufficient investigation of the skills and experience of the individual. This is to be the exception rather than the rule and requires written documentation signed by the Trip Coordinator, Commodore, and Vice Commodore.
Step 2: Sailing as “Acting Skipper” on an NLSC Sponsored event.
Step 2 begins only after the prospective skipper’s resume and two independent Qualified Skipper recommendations have been collected. The Trip Coordinator will notify all Board Members that the individual is interested in proceeding through the qualification process. Trip Coordinator will then make arrangements as appropriate at the request of the candidate.
The prospective skipper will accompany a NLSC Qualified Skipper on a multi-day trip and perform the duties of the skipper under the evaluation of the NLSC Qualified Skipper. The NLSC Qualified Skipper will be the Skipper of Record for the trip and will be the representative of the NLSC who is ultimately responsible for the safety of the boat and its crew for the trip. However, the prospective skipper should be given all of the normal skipper responsibilities for the trip, from crew organization and meal planning to actual performance in sailing the boat or insuring that it is sailed safely and in good order, including following all NLSC policies and procedures such as check in/check out and crew briefing.
The evaluation will be sailed with a NLSC Qualified Skipper so that a comprehensive opinion of the individual’s performance can be gathered. During the trip, the Skipper is expected to give encouragement but to keep advice and guidance to a minimum. To the degree possible, trips sailed for evaluation should provide the opportunity for the broadest demonstration of skill proficiency possible. Qualified Skippers who will be conducting evaluations will receive copies of all letters of recommendation before crew assignment takes place. It is permissible for the evaluating Skippers to consult with the recommending Skippers at any time before their evaluations are delivered to the Trip Coordinator. In no case will crew re-assignment be permitted to accommodate a candidate once the skippers’ meeting for a given trip has adjourned.
The trip sailed for evaluation should not be with an individual who also provided a recommendation for the individual’s participation in the qualification process.
At the trip’s conclusion, the prospective skipper should be given feedback as to his/her overall performance, strengths, and area where additional study or experience may be necessary. It is expected that the individual will be given continuous feedback on their performance during the trip as well so that the final evaluation does not come as a surprise. The NLSC Qualified Skipper will transmit a written evaluation to the Trip Coordinator within two weeks of the completion of the trip. A copy of this written evaluation may be sent to the prospective skipper as well for his or her information. The evaluation will outline both strengths and recommended areas for improvement and will provide a final rating of performance for the trip from one of the three following categories:
• Qualified – In the opinion of the Qualified Skipper evaluating performance on the trip in question, the candidate performed all of his/her duties in an acceptable manner, clearly demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and concern for safety required to be a Club Skipper.
• Unqualified – In the opinion of the Qualified Skipper evaluating performance on the trip in question, the knowledge, skills and/or experience of the prospective skipper as demonstrated on the trip are not sufficient to warrant further consideration as a Skipper until significant improvement can be demonstrated, and an additional recommendation obtained.
• Incomplete – In the opinion of the Qualified Skipper evaluating performance on the trip in question, the prospective skipper requires additional knowledge, skills and/or experience to be ready to handle the normal responsibilities of a Skipper on a Club trip. The areas where improvements are needed should be clearly identified in the body of the evaluation, as well as recommendations for where and how that improvement can be obtained and can be demonstrated. When the candidate can demonstrate the required improvements and/or that he/she has gained the required additional experience, a Qualified Skipper may change the “Incomplete” evaluation to “Qualified”.
Step 3 Board review and approval involves NLSC Board decision based on the prospective skipper’s resume, recommendations and evaluation trip(s).
As soon as practical after the evaluation trip, the NLSC’s Trip Coordinator will carefully review the documents for strengths, weaknesses, sailing skills, sailing knowledge and leadership skills. If qualified, the Trip Chair will present the request at the next Board meeting for board approval.
NLSC’s Board members will review the Skipper Recommendations, Resume and trip feedback form(s) as well as the Trip Coordinator’s recommendation and cast a vote recommending the prospective skipper for designation as a Qualified NLSC Skipper.
Based on the prospective skipper’s claimed knowledge and skill as well as the two Skipper Recommendations and evaluation trip(s), the prospective skipper shall receive one of the following designations from the Board:
NLSC Qualified Skipper
Approval as a NLSC Skipper may have the following restrictions:
• Approved, limited to inland lakes and rivers.
• Approved, limited to inland lakes and rivers and the Great Lakes
• Approved, limited to inland lakes and rivers, the Great Lakes and coastal waters of the US and Caribbean.
• Approved, unlimited.
• Vessels less than 27 feet
• Daytime only
• Winds less than 15 knots
Not yet ready for evaluation as prospective Skipper
In the event that a prospective Skipper requires more than one evaluation, each checkout will be completed with a different NLSC Qualified Skipper until all possibilities have been exhausted. Only then may an evaluation skipper be repeated and again, none of these may be an individual who provided an initial recommendation for the individual’s participation. NLSC Qualified Skippers who have already given the candidate a “Qualified” rating may not be called upon for a second evaluation. When a candidate successfully completes an evaluation, the Trip Coordinator will again, recommend the individual to be a Club Qualified Skipper. The recommendation of the Trip Coordinator is not final until the Board of Directors approves it.
Removal of Name from Skipper Qualification Roster for Inactivity
A skipper’s name will be removed automatically from the Skipper Qualification Roster if he or she has not sailed on a Club sponsored trip as a skipper within three consecutive years. Furthermore, a Club Skipper must clearly demonstrate he/she has at least the minimum skills required to be a Club Skipper within those three years. A former skipper may be returned to the roster of active qualified skippers on the recommendation of the Trip Coordinator and by approval of the Board of Directors after successfully completing one (1) evaluative check-ride with a club Qualified Skipper.
Removal from Skipper Qualification Roster for Cause
If a specific formal written complaint (not necessarily a comment on a trip evaluation form) regarding the performance of a club skipper is received, a board of inquiry may be convened at the discretion of the Commodore. Said board is to consist of the Vice Commodore, the Board Member-at-Large, and a Qualified Skipper who is not also a Board Member. The Trip Coordinator will represent the interests of the NLSC and present the complaint to the board of inquiry. The board of inquiry is then empowered to investigate the allegations by whatever means it deems appropriate, including hearing direct testimony. The board of inquiry is required to act to protect the safety and well-being of the club members.
In order to provide a fair hearing for the accused skipper that skipper shall be afforded an opportunity to testify and present evidence in his or her behalf. The board must vote on the proposed resolution, which may range from taking no action at all up to removal of the individual from the list of NLSC Qualified Skippers. A recommendation for removal should also include a recommendation of how the former skipper may regain his or her qualification. Reasons for convening a board of inquiry include but are not limited to physical or medical limitations affecting safety, unsafe practices aboard ship, and unexplained or intentional failure to follow club procedures. The recommendation of the board of inquiry is not final until the Board of Directors approves it.