Youth taking their “Optimist-class” training dinghies out on the water at Coopers Cove.

Local sailing program puts wind in the sails of youth

The Sooke Sailing Association is back this year with a revised sailing program for kids.

Who says adults get to have all the fun out on the water? The Sooke Sailing Association is back with two new summer sailing camps for youth aged 6 to 14, so time to put down those game controllers and pick up the paddles.

Running into its fourth year, the SSA will have run two courses; one runs July 27-31 for beginners and intermediate young sailors, and the second course runs from Aug 3 to 7 for intermediate-to-advanced participants.

So far, the program is filled up about half-way, so space is limited, notes Gord Fulcher, SSA president, who pointed out that the SSA will be running independently from BC Sailing’s MOSS (Mobile Optimist Sailing School) program, a first for the local organization. Still, he said there are enough boats and qualified instructors to go around.

The boats themselves are seven and-a-half foot sailing dinghies with flat bottom square hulls — not particularly fast, Fulcher said, but they’re really good for learning the necessary skills in and getting that confidence the kids need.

“These kids are sailing on their own within the first day or two, and the younger ones can be teamed up; they’re usually more comfortable with two in the boat,” he said, adding that there are two instructors running the program, with several certified volunteers helping out.

The kids learn all the terminology too; not just the usual “poop deck” stuff, but the sailing lingo that will actually help their performance out the water.

“The focus is safety and fun, and the skills just come along,” Fulcher said, adding that by mid-week, the kids learn learn how to tip over the boat and rise it again on their own.

“That’s a huge step in their development, learning that they can go into the water and still get the boat back up and continue sailing,” he said. “Once that happens, they lose all their fear of the water and concentrate more on the sailing.”

The program sets sail from Coopers Cove (near Stickleback restaurant) and will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The majority of the lessons will be hands on with skills warm ups in the mornings, lunch break then back out on the water.

The program will also run in partnership with Rush Adventures who will be supplying their kayaks as well as their expertise throughout the course.

“Rush Adventures has been a great help – we want to integrate with them so we can have sailing and real kayaking instruction. Right now the kayaks we have available are flat open kayaks the kids use if they’re just tired of sailing, so they go in the kayaks and play around for a bit.”

Fultcher pointed out that some of the advanced kids will sign up for both the intermediate and advanced camps, so they can help with kids new to sailing.

The second week is for advanced, that’s to work more on their racing skills. those kids will go out in the basin when the weather’s stable and have them sailing out in the open water.

Training includes water and boating safety, launching, docking, steering, balancing, basics like wind speed and direction, leaving and returning to the dock and different points of sail — some of which are taught both on and off the water.

But it’s not just the kids who get to have fun though; the year-round Sooke Sailing Co-op 2015 program is in full swing at Mariners Village Marina in Sooke.

The idea behind this adult program is a cooperative ownership of boats for the purpose of training, day sailing and cruising for adults and families. Each member pays an annual fee and also contributes time towards maintenance, administration or social events. It also gives curious non-sailors an opportunity to learn more about sailing and boating in general.

“We are there for people that want to learn how to sail, want to improve on their skills on the water, maintaining a boat, learning what is involved in owning a boat and want to be able to all this at an affordable price,” noted Fulcher, adding they try and sail two nights a week and on weekends — either come for a sail for $30 a person or $50 per family and check it out.

Those who want to register for the youth sailing program, go to moss.checklick.com or for more information on the program go to www.sookesailing.com or www.bcsailing.bc.ca.

You can also contact Gord Fulcher at 778-425-4030 for more info on all Sooke Sailing Association events, as well as visit www.sookesailingcoop.com.