five years. can you believe it? sometimes I hardly can.
the my2fish blog about Sunfish sailing turns 5 years old on July 17th.
high fives all around.
so earlier this summer, my 2 older boys (T2 & Noah) and a friend (Iyush) took 2 weeks of sailing lessons at the Pontiac Yacht Club Junior Sailing program.
Pontiac Yacht Club is home to the largest fleet of Lightning sailboats in the world (60+ registered boats). there are a whole slew of them at the docks, and a bunch more up on the shore on trailers.
my 2 boys had previously sailed with me on my Sunfish, but they had never tried to solo sail. their friend Iyush had never been on a sailboat. on the morning of day 1 – all three boys seemed just a tad nervous, but you could tell they were also excited. I had stopped in to make sure they were checked in okay, but then had to head back to work. later that afternoon, when I picked them up after lessons to head home, all three talked non-stop about how exciting the 1st day had been! (other than the boring “name-game” to learn the other students’ names.)
beginner sailing students at PYC start to learn in an Optimist sailboat. the Optimist (or Opti) is the most popular racing sailboat for juniors, and is a pretty stable and simple boat that is great for children ages 8 to 15 to learn sailing.
the next option as students become more comfortable with sailing is an Open Bic. this sailboat is more dynamic, with an open, self-draining hull – and is a nice step up from the stability of a learning boat like the Optimist but before they move on to a larger racing dinghy like a Laser.
the 2 younger boys – Noah (8 yrs) and Iyush (10 yrs) – both preferred to sail the Optimist, and in fact they ended up sailing together in one for most of the days, although they each did some solo sailing in both the Opti and the Open Bics.
my older son T2 (12 yrs) much preferred the Open Bic, and pretty much sailed that the whole time, other than a short time in the Opti’s on day 1.
when I picked up the boys after the lessons each day, they would all 3 talk almost non-stop for the 25-30 minute drive home about the sailing that day: who sailed what boat, what type of activities they did on the water, how many times each of them capsized, etc. you could tell all 3 boys were having an absolutely great time messing about out on the water. after a few days of lessons, the class was starting to have the students try to learn some of the tips for racing! I remember the boys saying they didn’t do very well with racing at first.
but on the 2nd to last day, the sailing instructors set up a windward-leeward course and the students did their own little mini-regatta, with each type of boat sailing 5 races. T2 raced against 2 or 3 other Open Bics – finishing 1-1-2-3-1, and tied for 1st place in overall points. Noah and Iyush sailed together in an Optimist against 7 other boats, most with just 1 sailor – but even with the 2 of them in the one boat, they finished the five races 3-3-3-4-3, giving them 2nd place overall! not bad for 2 weeks of lessons.
on Friday, I took a longer lunch break from work, and drove up to PYC hoping to take some pictures of the boys actually sailing out on the water as every other day when I got there to pick them up the sailboats were being put away for the day. when I got there, the entire fleet of students was way out on the lake, nowhere close enough for me to take any pictures. but the head of the sailing class radioed out to a coach, who came in quickly, and took me out on the coach boat to watch the boys sailing out on the lake.
it turns out that the wind was picking up quite a bit – and was the strongest it had been in several weeks, with wind speeds in the high teens (mph). the sailing coach and I barely made it out towards the majority of the fleet before we had to stop and help a younger girl who was having trouble sailing in the heavier winds. right about then the sailing instructors told the fleet to head back towards the more sheltered cove near the yacht club – so all the students turned their boats and headed that way.
I was able to snap this nice shot of T2 sailing downwind, with a larger capsized sailboat in the background behind him!
shortly after that, we caught up with Noah and Iyush – who were sitting there calmly waiting for Noah to bail out all the water… apparently they had bow-plowed, with the bow of their Opti dipping under the water as they rode over a large wave, and their boat was full of water. we told them to just keep bailing as they sailed back towards the cove.
after we all got back to the more sheltered cove, the instructors let the students just free sail around the cove for the 15 or 20 minutes before they headed to shore for a lunch break. I was able to snap a bunch of photos during the free sail.
after the 2 weeks, I’m pretty confident all 3 boys had an absolutely amazing time!
they spent a ton of time out on the water in the various boats, and are pretty comfortable sailing solo at this point. overall, I was very impressed with the junior sailing program at PYC and it’s results! I’m pretty sure we’ll consider it again for next summer.
we just registered our 2 older boys for sailing lessons this year. there are a few programs in the Detroit Metro area that offer sailing lessons for youth during the summer, but the location and/or times vary quite a bit. we chose to use Pontiac Yacht Club (PYC) on Cass Lake.
PYC has a junior/youth sailing program that starts with a “beginner” class, followed by an advanced/intermediate class, which could lead to junior sailing if your child is interested. we are starting both of them in the beginner 2-week class, and we’ll see how things go from there!
This class includes learning water safety, parts of a sailboat, wind direction, basic sailing direction and knots. The majority of the class time is spent gaining experience on the water in club supplied Optimists, Bics or 420 two-handed sailboats.
I just found out about this: Portage Yacht Club is offering a learn-to-sail day camp for juniors at Portage Lake, near Pinckney, Michigan. the club is offering “beginner” and “intermediate” sessions, both to be sailed in a Laser Pico, built by Laser Performance (maker of both the Sunfish and Laser).
The Laser Pico is a fun, durable, confidence-inspiring, rotomolded boat that can be sailed by everyone. It’s ideal for entry-level sailors and is equipped with a removable jib and reefing main sail for easy rigging.
discounts are available if you bring your own boat, if it’s appropriate for the class. classes run Monday through Friday, 1:00pm to 5:30pm, on various weeks throughout the summer – but the last beginner level week is going on right now, and the last intermediate week is next week (July 18-22). the courses are based on US Sailing course materials, and will be taught by a certified instructor.
see the Portage Yacht Club site for more details, prices, etc. (and sorry for the late notice!).
this is a pretty sweet video of a high school regatta at Community Boating in Boston.
A single photograph was captured every three seconds during the regatta. In the video the frames are played back at a rate of 24 per second. The result is that two hours of sailing can be seen just over a minute and half, which means that time seemingly has been sped up by a factor of 72.
I visited a community sailing center in Traverse City this summer (TACS) and was very impressed with the facility and organization. community sailing seems like such a win-win system for a community on/near the water, especially with all of the free or low-cost programs that they offer to teach younger children to learn to sail.
while on vacation back in August, my wife and I spent a few days together in Traverse City, Michigan. during our stay, we stopped by the Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS) to look around.
the boathouse – the Cornwell Sailing Center – is a recent addition, just recently completed in 2008. the boathouse is amazing, and a vast improvement over the old bus they used to operate out of!
the boathouse was open when we stopped by, so we strolled through to look at the boats, sails, and other sailing gear. here are some racks loaded with Sunfish and Lasers.
and here is the fleet list for the TACS: eighty-eight (88) boats! including (10) Lasers, (13) Sunfish, and (28) Optimist Prams.there were also several boats on lifts at the docks along the front of the boathouse.
while we were walking around, there were (3) Lasers out sailing on Boardman Lake – maybe a they were doing a bit of informal racing?
the TACS is a non-profit organization developed back in 1994 as an opportunity to provide a public training option for young local kids to learn about sailing. in 1995, the club built (20) of the Optimists to start teaching kids to sail. over the next 5 years, the club received many other donated boats, and enrollment in the sailing classes continued to climb. the City was meanwhile developing Hull Park as a city park on Boardman Lake. TACS has continued to grow, and now employs (5) instructors, a director, and a racing coach. all the employees are certified by US Sailing, and the TACS has won several awards from US Sailing, including Outstanding Seasonal Program (2000), Excellence in Instruction (2007), and Outstanding Leadership Award (2008).
TACS currently offers several learn to sail programs: a youth sailing program, for ages 8 to 17, that starts the youth sailing the stable Optimist sailboats. the programs last 1 or 2 weeks, and can be taken as 1/2 day or full day schedules.
after that, they can move on to the Advanced Sailing Sessions:
These Sessions will focus on further refining racing skills such as tactics, boat handling, sail trim & knowledge of the racing rules using singlehanded boats (lasers), 2 person boats (JY 15′s & Club 420′s) and crewed 3 person boats (Interlakes).
the TACS also offers classes for adults to learn to sail, Laser and Interlake racing on weeknights, and drop-in sailing for qualified sailors. once you have completed training at the TACS, or demonstrated appropriate skills, season passes are very afforable ($135 for a family!), and allow you to participate in weeknight sailing.
overall, I’m pretty impressed with their facilities and program – and I’ll admit a bit jealous, too! there are various public or university-affiliated sailing programs in my area, but none seem to have quite the fleet, or the depth of programs, especially those geared towards youth sailing, that the TACS does. and I don’t think any come close to being as affordable.
judith at Center of Effort had this to say about community sailing centers (CSC’s):
Why community sailing centers (CSC’s) are important:
- CSC’s provide an affordable option for those who want to learning to sail but can’t afford to own a boat and they open access to the waterfront for everyone to enjoy equally.
- CSC’s promote multi-generational participation and a strong sense of community. Children can teach adults and vice versa.
- CSC’s create an environment that encourage people to get out and interact with nature while learning a life-long skill. In this world of electronic media and multi-tasking, sports like sailing get people outdoors and require them to focus on the task at hand. As I like to say “there’s no texting when sailing”.
I was very impressed with the TACS, and hope that someday I can be a part of a similar program in my area (or maybe just move to Traverse City?!).