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Juniors set sail in popular Lahaina Yacht Club program

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | Jul 7, 2016

The 2016 Lahaina Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program has attracted students ages nine to 14. They are all eager to take lessons and join the upcoming annual Dinsmoor Trophy Regatta. PHOTO BY MIKE SOWERS.

LAHAINA – With so many Maui youth continuing to express interest in sailing, the Lahaina Yacht Club (LYC) 2016 Junior Sailing Program has grown by leaps and bounds.

Summer classes at LYC, as well as introductory classes during the school year, provided numerous students with the opportunity to learn how to sail. The experience includes lessons they can keep for life. In fact, various schools throughout the island have joined with LYC’s Junior Sailing Program, which teaches valuable math and science skills along with teamwork.

“The skills they learn on these little boats are universal,” said Curtis Robb of the LYC Board of Governors, coach and former LYC fleet captain. “While mastering these new capabilities, the kids gain self-confidence and learn how to be responsible.”

The Junior Sailing Program offers both the rigor and the fun of the sport. This summer’s four different groups, ages nine to 14, some novice, others experienced, learned the fundamentals of sailing and the logistics of operating a sailboat. LYC owns a diverse fleet for members and participants to train on and to race.

“We begin our classes with lessons in terminology, such as learning the parts of the boat; the sailing circle that describes the direction of the wind, vital knot-tying, swim tests and boat capsize drills,” explained Robb. “The kids then help put the boats in the water and apply their knowledge to sailing.”

“We teach the participants to set goals, have fun and keep growing in skills,” said coach Curtis Robb. “The emphasis, however, remains on sportsmanship and bringing the joy of sailing to a new generation of children here in the islands.” PHOTO BY MIKE SOWERS.

“I love being able to sail on the water,” said nine-year-old Colm. “I learned how to sheet in and sheet out, to man the sails and how to use the tiller to steer the boat.”

“We teach the participants to set goals, have fun and keep growing in skills,” Robb added. “The emphasis, however, remains on sportsmanship and bringing the joy of sailing to a new generation of children here in the islands.”

“Being out in the water helps me tune out everything else while I talk to my fellow sailors,” said Maggie, age ten. “If you’re by yourself in an Open Bic (single-man sailboat), you have to man the sail, the rudder and the tiller. I also learned what to do if my boat capsizes: push on the dagger board to get back up. Being on the water is so amazing!”

“The main challenge for the program seems to be space,” Robb continued. “We have evolved from one week of sailing camp three years ago to a waiting list of kids wanting to take lessons and sail. Our core group of coaches and directors are working hard to secure a plan for the program’s future expansion. We are so thankful to our sponsors and all the families, sailors and volunteers that make our Junior Sailing Program a success.”

After the summer session, if kids are qualified and interested, LYC encourages them to join the Junior Sailing Team.

Lahaina Yacht Club junior sailors can’t wait to “set sail” every day. Group B students are pictured. PHOTO BY BRUCE OLSTEN.

“We are looking forward to hosting our fourth annual Dinsmoor Junior Sailing Regatta on August 14th,” Robb noted.

“The regatta is named after LYC member Keith Dinsmoor for all his efforts with junior sailing over the years.”

“The LYC junior sailors will be competing against the Hawaii Kai Boat Club in Open Bic (one-man) and RS Feva XL (two-man) sail boats. Teams have been training and making improvements on their technical abilities and boat-handling skills,” he said.

Sophia Jorgenson, LYC junior coach, started sailing in 2008 as a student. She joined the Junior Sailing Team in 2013 and competed in the Dinsmoor Trophy Regatta for three years.

“I helped every summer as a volunteer and now I’m a coach,” Jorgenson said. “Coaching is rewarding from the first day of chaos to the last day, when the kids know what they’re doing and then want to join the LYC sailing team and race.”

“Most importantly, the kids are all having fun, learning a lot, and are anxious to set sail,” Jorgenson added.

Lahaina Yacht Club, founded in 1965, occupies a clubhouse located at 835 Front St. in Lahaina. For more information, or to make a donation to support the Junior Sailing Program, visit www.lyc-foundation.org, or visit www.lyc.us for general information.