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Sailing Camp

Youth Sailors Back Under Sail! 

A crew of 10 young sailors ages 7-14 joined forces for the second year with Premier Sailing School at Yankee Point Racing and Cruising Club. Under the experienced eye of two instructors plus Arabella Denvir, director of the school in Irvington, the YPRCC facility on Myer Creek in Lancaster was dotted with a colorful display of small sailboats.  Six returning sailors were accompanied by four new students, and the group was divided into two classes.  The five older students honed their skills on 14 foot, lateen sail Sunfish boats while the five younger students learned on 8 foot, sprit-rigged, Optimist boats. Two 16 foot Carolina skiffs were used by the instructors to aid the students on the water. 

The sailing program for children was developed by Premier Sailing from the Royal Yachting Association Young Sailors Program which divides the learning process into many stages so that each child can learn at his or her own pace. The focus is on safety, good quality of instruction, and fun. The aim is for the children to have a great time while learning to sail and practice safety around boats in general. 

Fun and safety in and on the water were the guiding principles for the week. Classroom instruction was included in the morning session along with hands-on sailing, followed by lunch and swimming.  The remainder of the afternoon was spent sailing. The thunderstorm and rain of the first day evolved into lovely breezes the rest of the week that tested the skills of each student. The younger sailors put their newly-learned tiller and sail handling knowledge to use and had an opportunity to sail alone and with a partner.  The older students, tacking into the wind and coming about with great agility and speed, quickly refreshed their skills from last year and enjoyed racing around the water. 

Daily instruction was from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm. Due to an impending storm, the first day's lessons were revised so that a quick refresher of a boat’s anatomy was followed by an hour of hands-on learning before the pelting rain ended the on-water exercises. Then it was back to the drawing board where sailing tactics were discussed before lunch. The afternoon session included more details about sailing theory and ended with discussions and renewed friendship activities while the weather continued to deteriorate.  Fortunately, the YPRCC location did not experience the dangerous tornado sighting reported by the Irvington location which was a valuable lesson about the importance of always watching the weather while sailing. 

The second day saw better weather and afforded more opportunity to practice on the water. The important lesson, “How to Right A Capsized Boat,” was first on the agenda, and even though students wore life vests, all were able to swim.  The sight of their little heads bobbing in the water and the sound of lots of laughter coming from every direction made this exercise one of the most popular.  Bailing out the boat taught each sailor how much easier it was to sail without the extra water weight! After mastering this technique, the students concentrated on sailing instructions.  There was just enough wind to fill the sails, and the boats were able to stay in Myer Creek, where they mostly tried to avoid each other.  This provided a great opportunity to learn about jibing and coming about.  

The third day was beautiful with sunshine and increasing temperatures. The second group spent part of the morning practicing capsizing and righting their boats. It was a hilarious exercise to watch but participation was even better as laughter filled the creek. Then the task of applying all the classroom lessons got a chance to be tested. More sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses appeared and little hands busily pulled and released sails as the wind gradually came up. The boats headed out toward Yankee Point Marina down the creek and sailed around, learning to head into the wind by tacking, or enjoy a broad reach for easier sailing. Lunch and swimming were welcome before heading out for the afternoon. 

The fourth day was a bit overcast with increasing temperatures. All students were rapidly feeling more comfortable in their boats.  Those who had been paired earlier with partners were given a chance to sail alone. The skiffs circled boats like proud mothers encouraging students to try out different sail forms, tightening against the wind and loosening when sailing downwind. It was readily apparent that the instructions both in the classroom and on the water were paying off.  The Sunfish easily headed out toward the marina, although the Optimists were initially towed to keep up until they reached better wind. Trying to sail in calm waters was always a challenge. 

The last day saw more sunshine and glorious wind, the best yet to give students a real test of their new skills. The comfort and growing self-confidence that each little sailor displayed on the water was evident in the better handling of boats and increased ability to follow an instructor’s directions. Morning sailing, lunch, swimming, and afternoon sailing brought the week to a successful close. 

Before this year’s formal closing ceremony – where instructors highlight each student’s hard-earned sailing skills – there was a surprise party to celebrate Arabella's new U.S. citizenship, just awarded.  Plans were discussed for repeating the sailing school partnership again next year and all agreed it was a successful and fun week. Check out the Premier Sailing School website ( for pictures and more information!                                                 *            *            *


Possible Cutlines for Picture

Young sailors (from front to back) Eli Wood, Henry Wright, Jonas Fagan, Armand Bapple, and Rylan Cave test their sailing skills on Myer Creek during Premier Sailing School and YPRCC partnership.