Junior Sailing: If Boats Could Talk…

At our upcoming club work days, we’ll be giving our junior fleet a thorough going over — preparing each for a summer introducing kids to sailing and fueling new stories of adventure the kids will remember for many years. If boats could talk, our junior fleet would have many tales — about the boy or girl who began the season a bit nervous and each day grew more confident.  About the girl who just couldn’t grasp the difference between tacking and jibing, had a few unexpected swims and got bonked in the head more than once until the ‘aha!’ moment when it finally clicked. About the 1st year sailor who tentatively entered his first regatta and, out of a fleet of 30 boats placed in the top 3 and took home some silver — a coaster-sized plate that proudly sits on the mantle above the fireplace. For an 8-year-old with zero sailing experience, their first time skippering an Opti can be summed up as roughly 3 parts excitement and 1 part fear. I recall my daughter coming home from her first day of Junior Sailing telling of her adventures sailing around the harbor. She was brimming with excitement and pride as she told tales the likes of Joshua Slocum or Seinfeld’s George Costanza – “The sea was angry that day, my friends…”

Junior Sailing is about more than just learning to sail.  Kids in our program develop self-confidence and assuredness that comes from being able to sail a boat alone in a harbor that for a child in a 7-foot dinghy can seem pretty big. They learn leadership and teamwork working with their fellow program participants, not to mention a thing or two about weather, water safety, marlinspike and more — all while having a blast.

A First Boat for Your Child

Parents looking to take their child’s sailing interest to the next level should consider purchasing a new or used Optimist dinghy for their child. Just over 7 feet long, Optimists are the one of the biggest one-design fleets in the world (over 130,000 registered boats) and are the boat of choice for sailors up to age 15 in Junior Sailing programs. Your son or daughter’s very own ‘Opti’ teaches responsibility and pride of ownership — you can expect their boat to be cleaner than their room as they wash, wax, polish and learn to adjust their rig for the best performance. HHC’s Junior Sailing fleet is comprised of boats that are service-able for learning purposes, but are less likely to be competitive in regattas. Your child’s own boat with crisp sails, better hardware and set up especially for your child will be far more competitive against similarly equipped racers. Of course, because it’s their boat, it is also available for use outside of class (supervised, of course). Used Optimists start at about $1,000 and have incredible resale value — unless you overpay, you can expect to recoup your investment when your child outgrows the boat. New Optis retail for roughly $3,000-$5,000 or more depending on manufacturer and options.  Used Optis can be found online at Craigs List or at the Dinghy Shop (http://www.dinghyshop.com) in Amityville at their annual spring used boat event. The Dinghy Shop also sells new Optis and all related gear. Need help evaluating a used boat? Give me a call or drop me an email.

Junior Sailing 2013

Enrollment is already underway for this summer’s Junior Sailing program. Our program is open to both members and non-members and runs for seven weeks beginning Monday, June 24th through August 8th. Half-day sessions are held mornings or afternoons Monday thru Thursday. Our staff of US Sailing-certified instructors lead a program that is as educational, fun and safe. Register by April 30th for an ‘Early Bird’ discount and take advantage of our ’Refer a Friend’ offer for additional savings. Fees are listed on the attached program application.

Questions about our program? Drop me an email at HHCJuniorSailing@gmail.com.