Water Drills

Overall Purpose-Value of Water Drills:

  • Operators practice and develop their boathandling skills in a controlled and safe environment.
  • Operators learn by observing others performing the drills.
  • Trainers (instructors or instructor trainers) provide an effective means of supervision, control, evaluation, and instruction.

Drill Flow:

Of equal importance to the design and selection of drills is the degree to which they can be made to flow along a sequence requiring a minimum of time to set up and conduct the drills. Improperly sequenced drills can significantly extend the amount of time required on the water to complete session objectives. Understanding how to optimize the flow of drills is particularly important for new instructors, many of whom often have difficulty completing the required skills in the available time.

There are many variations of sequencing the drills, depending on the skill level of the class and the physical layout of the facility. Each individual waterfront setting provides its own unique set of constraints as to what drills can be run and where. Often long trips to open water require organizing the course to maximize what is achieved when there. Additionally, weather in the form of afternoon sea breezes or storms may predicate that planing drills be done in the lighter winds of morning.

An example of a slow-speed, confined water drill sequence using 4 to 6 buoys in a line could be:

  1. Leave the Dock
  2. Minimum Control Speed (between 2 buoys)
  3. Pivot Turn (near a buoy)
  4. Hold Position (near a buoy)
  5. Backing Slalom (or Forward Slalom for beginning operators)
  6. Return to Dock

If the slow-speed, confined water drill area is near open water, the boats can proceed to it for high-speed turn drills before returning to the dock. The high-speed drills may include Williamson Turns, which check operators’ control in a turn, followed by a PIW recovery.

An example of a high-speed open water drill sequence using 4 to 6 buoys could be:

  1. Planing Slalom
  2. Hold Position (near a buoy)

Then remove all buoys, except for two widely spaced ones (about 200 feet apart), and drop a 3rd buoy as an offset starting buoy for steering an inbound range.

  1. Steer a Range Inbound
  2. Steer a Range Outbound
  3. High-Speed Stop in Emergency Mode
  4. Williamson Turn

After a slow-speed or high-speed drill sequence, the on-water session could end with the following sequence:

  1. Alongside Tow to Dock Area
  2. Pivot Turn with Alongside Tow
  3. Docking with Alongside Tow