Having grown up dinghy racing, Doug Innes left college in 1992 and trained as an RYA Dinghy and Windsurf Instructor; he completed his first season as a Watersports Instructor in 1993. Over the forthcoming years, Doug worked for a number of other Sea Schools around the Solent and further afield in Scotland and Cornwall. He went on to become a Senior Instructor and Chief Instructor as well as developing into a powerboat and yachting instructor. In 2001, Doug was approached by Simrad to run an extensive number of the then new SRC Course for their DSC customers. Doug accepted the contract but first required an accredited RYA school to run the courses.
Stormforce Coaching was born. It was in fact the proceeds of the first SRC course that effectively paid the RYA recognition fees to get started. Over the following few months, Doug broadened the range of activities to encompass first aid, navigation and Radar. The classroom back then was hired on a daily basis and the office was run from home. Stormforce Coaching was one of the first RYA Training Centres to have a website (hard to picture now). The SRC courses were a huge success, largely down to the purchase of six DSC simulators, the first of their kind and a move that other RYA centres did not make for another five years or so.
For Stormforce, the early days were hard work and long hours; there was no capital investment or bank loan to get the company off the ground. Every penny spent had to be earned first.
The ethos of the company was always to deliver the best possible training available and to deliver it at a good, fair price. The intention was not just to be another RYA sailing or powerboat school but to be a top level Training Centre with the best instructors delivering a consistently high level of coaching. The business name “Stormforce Coaching” made the point.
In 2003, Doug contracted a local RIB company to hire Stormforce two RIBs to use for training purposes. Stormforce Coaching became an recognised RYA Powerboat Training Centre, quickly becoming accredited to deliver the full range of courses including the Advanced and Instructor levels.
As time went on, the business grew, freelance staff were recruited, RYA Sea Survival and RYA Diesel recognition were granted and before long it was time for the school to buy its first RIB instead of contracting in someone else’s.
The first Stormforce boat was named Capella and was a Ribtec 475. At about the same time, the first full time employee (Josh) was recruited, the business was incorporated into a Limited Company and a shared classroom was rented full time in Shamrock Quay. In early 2005, the company sought to extend its' RYA recognition to cover Sail Cruising and Motor Cruising and contracted in its' first yacht. Later the same year Stormforce entered two charter yachts into the RORC Fastnet Race.
A season later and the Company had outgrown the shared classroom it called home. It was time to extend the fleet and move into bigger premises, but Shamrock Quay marina was simply full. Stormforce searched long and hard for a new Training Centre and eventually found one near by that could accommodate three classrooms and enough berthing for the then modest fleet.
2006 & A NEW TRAINING CENTRE
The new Centre opened in early 2006, initially with three classrooms and two offices, as well as berthing for the ever-expanding fleet. Later that year, another full time Instructor was recruited and two larger RIBs, Vulcan and Alpharatz, replaced Capella. During the same year, RYA PWC recognition was added to the already large portfolio of RYA Courses, along with BSAC Seamanship recognition and BWS Ski Boat Driver Recognition. By now the business was proving its' potential and it was time to buy the first yacht. Enter Alice, a Bavaria 37.
In early 2007, RYA Dinghy, Keelboat and Windsurf recognition were granted, giving Stormforce Coaching the widest variety of RYA courses of any commercial training centre in the world. The Dinghy fleet started with two RS Visions. Throughout 2007 the business grew steadily, the freelance team grew and Becky came on board full time. This was also the year Stormforce opened up a second centre in Porto Heli in Greece with a fleet of dinghies, cats and boards. In September, the company launched its' Internship Programme and took on its' first two Interns; one of them, Adam, still works with the company today, having progressed to a Senior Instructor. In the same month, Stormforce Coaching also began exhibiting at the Southampton Boat Show.
During 2008 and 2009, the fleet was continually updated, Alice was replaced with a Jeanneau Sunfast 37, "Jedi Knight," which has proved to be a far better training yacht. The Cork 1720 "Vader" was purchased, as was a RS400 and a couple of PWCs. One of the RIBs was upgraded to a Valiant 8m "Yoda." In the meantime, the builders were in, providing the team with a much-needed fourth classroom.
In 2010, the Greek Centre continued to flourish, whilst back home Stormforce teamed up with Southampton Sailing Club to use their site as a satellite centre. The company was now running from two bases in Southampton with a dedicated offshore training Centre and a watersports centre at the mouth of the river on Weston Shore. Another new RIB, an XS600 "Obi Wan", complimented the existing fleet. She was soon followed by the purchase of a second Sunfast 37 "Storm Trooper."
Since then the company has simply continued to grow. Stormforce Coaching currently has a team of thirteen full time staff as well as a pool of freelance Instructors. The company's full time staff represents one of the most highly qualified and experienced teams of RYA Instructors, Trainers and Coaches on the planet. Many of the freelancers are the same guys who worked with the company back in the early days of 2002-'04. The Southampton Centre now boasts a flotilla of two PWC, three powerboats, a motor cruiser, fout keelboats, three yachts, none of which are on finance; all are bought and paid for. Stormforce Coaching also manages a five other yachts and a second motor cruiser and has further access to a much larger fleet of craft when required.
2011 saw the team take on the new challenge of the Atlantic Circuit, with one of the yachts racing to the Caribbean with the ARC in November (she came 4th). During early 2012, Stormforce Coaching ran its' first training courses in the Caribbean and entered Antigua Week. Back on the home front, the company has another new RIB, (XS700), two new yachts (Hanse 350 and Elan 40) and a new motor cruiser (Sea Ray 37) for the 2012 season. With all the new additions to the fleet in 2012, it was time to move premises again, back into Shamrock Quay. The schools new premises are bigger and the berthing supports our ever- growing flotilla.
So, a decade on and the basics have not changed. The company's two key philosophies, of delivering the highest level of training at a good price and of not taking on any debt, still stand proud. Stormforce Coaching's success as a Sea School is quite simply down to having the best kit and the best equipped classrooms, having the very best staff and having a strategy of steady organic growth.
Hopefully you can see from the above that we are a genuine "bricks and mortar" business with a good trading history. If you would like to meet us before you book, you are more than welcome to visit our Southampton Centre and discuss which course, race event or charter is appropriate for you. We can also be found exhibiting each year at all three of the key UK boat shows (The London Boat Show, Southampton Boat Show and the RYA Dinghy Show).
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Great Race Results from the RORC Cervantes Trophy as the 2013 RORC Fastnet campaign gets underwayMore
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