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Yacht Clubs Provide Sailing Instruction, Competitions

Mar 22, 2019

Sailing is a very popular summer activity, providing a break from the heat by catching a nice breeze out on the open water. But like many other pastimes, it’s a skill you have to learn. Going out on the water without any knowledge of how to sail could prove disastrous.

There are future mariners in our local yacht clubs, which place a premium on teaching navigational skills.

Founded over 80 years ago, the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club Junior Sailing and Tennis Program in Beach Haven has provided instruction to generations of LEHYC sailors and is one of the longest-running programs on the East Coast. The program’s success has resulted from striving to achieve the following objectives:

• To have fun throughout the program, which includes: sailing, tennis, trips, team and family functions and socials.

• To teach seamanship, sailing and racing skills, and sportsmanship in a safe and fun environment. To enable children to acquire, through the whole experience of the program, lifelong values such as sportsmanship, consideration for others, teamwork and self-worth.

• To teach children how to sail to the best of their ability and interest, and to encourage growth in skill and competence, through both individual and team participation.

• To encourage the acquisition of competitive sailing skills in regattas and in races.

• To provide exposure to the game of tennis, learn basic skills and stimulate interest in competitive tennis through tournament play.

• To encourage the acquisition of competitive tennis skills through tournament play.

“The program is intended to expose children and their families to the enjoyment and uniqueness of sailing and tennis. This will be accomplished under the supervision of competent, involved instructors, with oversight and direction by the program’s facilities director and program coordinator, and assistance by the stewardship of volunteer adult leaders,” the club says on its website.

The Spray Beach Yacht Club in Long Beach Township has flagship sailing programs including several different fleets and classes. SBYC Notice of Race Information, types of fleets, fleet activity, racing schedules, regattas, rescue and patrol and much more can be found to fit any sailor’s interest, from Opti to cruisers and Juniors to Seniors sailing.

“Unique to SBYC is our Sea Class sailing program,” states the website. “SBYC provides club Sunfish sailboats for member use and members volunteer to help other members learn how to sail. It is a great opportunity for adults to learn how to sail in a calm and nurturing environment. Sea Class sailors often move up in abilities and participate in the weekly Sunfish racing classes.”

In 2002, the Brant Beach Yacht Club in Long Beach Township established the Brant Beach Sailing Foundation to provide resources that support training and participation of local sailors as they compete in regional, national and international competitions. It also promotes and supports programs that expand participation of youth and adults in sailing and assists in maintaining the natural habitat for sailing.

A primary goal of the foundation is to furnish equipment and funding to promote its mission, such as support boats and boating trailers for travel to regattas, and through scholarships. Sailing education and program/regatta sponsorship are also key outreach aspects of the foundation.

The foundation offers a lease/purchase program for junior sailors new to sailing who are interested in leasing an Opti with the option to purchase at the end of the season. This program allows beginner sailors easy entrance into junior sailing.

Surf City Yacht Club offers youth sailing programs for all ages and abilities.

“The safety of our youth sailors is paramount,” says the club website. “All sailors, regardless of the number of years in the program, are required to pass a safety swim test the first day of the program. Each sailor must wear a USCG-approved, vest type PFD while on the water.”

Participants in swimming and sailing will be tested and placed by an instructor. Sailors may stay in a sailing or swimming level for more than one year depending on the student’s level of achievement. Lesson times may be subject to change due to class size. A minimum enrollment is required to hold each course.

In an introduction to basic sailing and seamanship, students will learn a positive attitude toward sailing as well as responsibility for self, others and equipment. Students are encouraged to begin in an Optimist dinghy or a Sunfish, depending on a sailor’s size and age.

An intermediate program is designed for sailors who have acquired basic skills and are ready to start racing. It focuses on improved boat handling skills, sail control, sportsmanship and basic racing and rules. Responsibility for equipment care and maintenance is stressed.

At the core of the Barnegat Light Yacht Club in Harvey Cedars is its commitment to fostering growth in the sport of sailing. There are many active racing and cruising fleets at BLYC: from the competition in the Lightning fleet (a racing class with over 15,000 boats worldwide); to the more genteel racing in one of the club’s classic catboat fleets; to the personal performance of the Sunfish fleet.

“Needless to say there is something for everyone who is interested in sailing regardless of your experience level,” the website says.

The club, which was founded in 1928, has eight different classes, ranging from 7-year-old beginners to advanced Laser/Sunfish racing. In addition to the regular intraclubs, each fleet hosts social events and year-end awards for the sailors.

— Eric Englund

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