LONG SAULT (ON) – Youth from the Cornwall, South Stormont and Glengarry areas gathered at the Stormont Yacht Club (SYC) in early August to take to the water and learn how to be a sailor. Two ‘1-week’ sessions were offered to youth from ages 8-15 years of age to learn the basics of sailing on 12-foot ZEST dinghies.
Linda Hutchinson, SYC Youth Sail Program Coordinator, explained that the aim of the program was to provide a safe and fun learning environment for young sailors and to teach the kids about safe boat handling, seamanship, and sportsmanship. Several SYC members undertook Community Instructor training with Sail Ontario throughout the winter to become familiar with sail teaching techniques and best practices.
Registration for the 2 sessions opened in March and filled quickly. Hutchinson was not surprised with the response nor with the enthusiasm from the local community. She exclaimed that it was a joy to see excitement for the program.
Youth participants were exposed to sail knots, wind direction fundamentals, sail terminology, basic capsizing skills and boat control during off-water and on-water exercises.
By the end of Day 1 they were all sailing with 2 youth assigned to each boat. Two instructors guided the sailors from their own individual dinghies to coach and guide the young sailors. By the end of the program the kids were able to set up the proper rigging on the dinghies as well as de-rig the boats at the end of each day. All participants were also able to independently leave the dock, sail, and then safely return to the dock, which was quite impressive.
Overall, 31 youth enjoyed the program. Each received a certificate from Sail Canada attesting to their completion of this introductory course aptly called ICAN Sail. Hutchinson expressed a huge thanks to Ontario Sail for their support towards the development of the youth sail program.
SYC is hoping to offer the program again next summer and, perhaps, a higher level through the Sail Canada’s CANSail Program.
You can learn more about the Stormont Yacht Club by visiting their website at https://www.stormontyachtclub.ca/.