traverse area community sailing

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.

(picture from the TACS website)

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!

(picture from the TACS website)

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:
  1. 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.
  2. CSC’s promote multi-generational participation and a strong sense of community. Children can teach adults and vice versa.
  3. 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?!).


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