By: Kevin Sheehan, Director, Adult & Youth On-the-Water Training
Throughout the summer, AP residents and visitors strolling on or near our marina may have noticed several small sailboats cutting through the wind and cruising the waters of Yeopim Creek. A closer look would reveal a new breed of young sailors at the helm. As in summers past, the Osprey Yacht Club (OYC) sponsored four weeks of Youth Learn to Sail classes designed to introduce sailing to the children and grandchildren of our club members. This summer’s youth classes consisted of two sunfish sessions, Beginner and Advanced, and two Optimist (Opti) sailboat sessions. At the conclusion of these four classes, we had eighteen new sailors in our ranks.
Each week-long session focused on teaching the basics of sailing and seamanship to our young students, as well as stressing boating safety. This allowed the students to experience the fun and excitement of skippering their own sailboat! Students began the week with a short classroom instruction that included identifying parts of the sailboat, understanding wind and its effect on the boat, and learning basic knot-tying and seaman-ship. The Opti students also spent a day in the pool, get-ting their first opportunity to sail the boat in a protected environment. The next four days were spent on the waters of Yeopim Creek, with both Sunfish and Opti students practicing their sailing skills, always with an instructor close at hand, and the safety observation boat also monitoring activities. The fun-filled week wrapped up with a graduation ceremony in the OYC Center, with students receiving certificates of completion presented to each student by his or her instructor.
We began the summer with the Advanced Sunfish class, held June 20th to the 24th, under the watchful eye of our lead sunfish instructor Joanna Williams. Three veteran sunfish students, Kayla Cassidy, Jeannine Miles, and Raymond Miles navigated their way through the class, dis-playing skills they had previously learned, while developing new techniques. All three performed exceptionally well and are now fully qualified sunfish sailors.
Next class up was the first session of Opti training, from June 27th to July 1st, for our first all-female class of be-ginning sailors: Althea Calabro, Juliet Gaudreau, and Hadley Smith. Each of these young ladies quickly learned the basics of sailing and took to the waters under the watchful eye of their instructor. Congratulations to all three graduates of the first Opti session.
We were back at it again from July 11th to July 15th with the Beginning Sunfish course, attended by six graduates of past years’ Opti classes. Emma Jennings, Lane Gregory, Colee Sheehan, Gabby Sheehan, Jacob Wirsig, and Shelby Wirsig took to the water like they had been sailing all their young lives! All admitted having a blast learning on a new type of sailboat and are anxious to attend next summer’s advanced sunfish class.
Finally, the last week of July saw the second group of Opti sailors hit the classroom and brave the week on the creek (winds were gusty and unpredictable at times). Ava Brenzekri, Paxton Brenzekri, Oscar Garfield, Brinley Petersen, Fiona Sheehan, and Kyler Sheehan passed the class with flying colors, and each received a course completion certificate.
A special thanks to all our youth sailing pro-gram volunteer instructors, chase boat opera-tors, and photographers, too many to name here individually. But you know who you are! The success of our youth sailing program depends heavily on these volunteers who continue to donate their time and skills year after year. Thank you all so much.
Dates for next year’s classes will be posted on Nabr in early September, along with information on how to register and deadlines for submission. Fair winds and following seas to all our new sailors. May the friendships made this summer last forever!