Growing up, I have been spoiled with going to the lake every weekend, sailing, fishing and waterskiing. One of my first real memories growing up was being secured in my dad’s Hobie 33 Mono-hull. My dad had made a big wall in the front v-berth so I wouldn’t fall out onto the floor. When I was old enough to start sailing and pulling lines on our Hobie 33, I was then also able to go with him on the Hobie 21 Catamaran. The Hobie 21 was a great boat during the hot summer months because of the huge trampoline style deck allowed me to climb all over the boat and when we got going we were fascinated by the waves crashing into the trampoline or over the front of the hulls. From there I grew into sailing Sunfish and windsurfers by myself. Half the fun of sailing a smaller vessel is flipping them over to go for a swim during a hot day. I enjoyed the Sunfish and Laser sailboats the most. Of all the boats I have sailed in my life, these two are special because of the solitude and overall challenge. Getting where you want to go, solely by the force of the wind is thrilling.
Looking around at today’s youth, staying inside during the summer or being too afraid to try something new, in fear of being bad at it, is very depressing to me. When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed to fear failure or play video games for more than one hour a day. Today, video games are purposefully made to fill up one’s day, with the overall time committed to the game being the main goal. I am now in my late 20s; I see the younger generations, as well as my own, filling up their free time with video game systems that cost more than some small sailboats. Clearly, money isn’t an impediment to getting into sailing.
Recently a good customer and great friend, Charlie Wright, came to us wanting to start a small Jr. Sailing Program, locally based out of Brookville Lake, Indiana. We helped him order in a few Bic O’pen Sailboats to use as beginner boats for kids 8 to 14 to learn on before putting them on his Laser and Hobie Catamarans. We were glad to help because kids are the future of the sport. We love to share our sailing passion with everyone we encounter.
Charlie started the Jr. Sailing Team (Team VMG) sponsored by VMG Vendor Managed Gas with a small team meeting. He invited many local families, with children in the 8-14 age group, to join our team. As mentioned before, that age group is ideal for these Bic O’pen small sailboats. Then, six team days were organized where we began teaching the basics and fundamentals of sailing. Throughout the year, I also brought a Hobie Getaway which allowed us to split the team up into two groups, making sure to keep everyone sailing throughout the day. Charlie and I are a good coaching pair and the kids really enjoyed their lessons.
The most rewarding part of coaching and sailing with these kids is the energy and excitement you can see on their faces and in their body language. I wish many more kids had the opportunity to learn to sail. Sailing is a lifetime activity and grade school age is a perfect time to start.
Strictly Sail Inc. would not be what it is today if we did not love watching people grow and develop their seamanship. If you have any interest in starting your own Jr. Sailing Program at your local lake please let us know, we would love to help in any way that we can and get more children, of all ages, out onto the water to discover the joy of sailing.