Junior campers gain confidence, skills needed to sail, kayak solo
Sailing is the art of controlling a boat with large foils, while using the wind as a natural propeller. Mastery of the skill requires experience, which can begin young through the junior sailing program. For the second year, the Captiva Island Yacht Club has organized and sponsored a sailing camp for the younger generation.
“Kids learn how to sail a boat single-handed,” said Chris Heidrick, the sailing committee chairman and veteran sailor. “There is also education on powerboat safety by U.S. Sailing and how to kayak independently.”
During the nine-day program, each student is given three-and-a-half hours of sailing instruction, 30 minutes for lunch followed by three hours of powerboat safety coupled with kayaking instruction. Each child is assigned a kayak and sailboat an Optimist Pram, Sunfish or Laser – depending on the student’s skill level.
First-time sailor Skyler Spooner of Dallas, Texas enjoyed learning a move called hiking, which prevents capsizing by shifting weight on the boat. Additionally, students were taught knots, among the most important things a sailor should know; and they learned tacking or turning into the wind and to jibe, changing the wind from one side of the boat to the other.
“I learned more about going faster,” said second-year sailing student Tara Kane, who also earned her powerboat license. “Everyone should join the program. It is worth it.”
Edison Sailing Center in Fort Myers provided instructors for the program and all course material, while Tween Waters Inn allowed use of its boat ramps. The only qualification for participation is successful completion of a swim test a 50-yard swim, tread water, put on a personal floatation device in the water and swim back 50 yards wearing the PFD.
“The key is learning responsibility and team work,” Heidrick said of the program. “It also provides a level of independence.”
For the final day of this year’s sessions, parents and family members of the 15 students were invited to observe their new sailing and marine skills at the yacht club. Last year, 14 students between the ages of 8 and 15 had a great time while parents were thrilled with the program.
“It is a good small class with good instructors,” noted Skyler’s grandmother, Jane Henshaw, who is a longtime CIYC member. She also encouraged her other granddaughters, Taylor and Emily Denouden of Kansas, to participate in the junior sailing program.