At Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, approximately 70 sailors take part in the summer junior sailing program lead by around a dozen devoted instructors. For new sailors, the sport can be challenging at first, and young kids may get discouraged early on.
Yet at Manhasset Bay, sailors keep coming back every day with grins on their faces excited for a fun day of sailing. Interested in learning more about their program and finding out what makes it such a fun experience for its participants, JSA of LIS Media visited the program on Friday and got the scoop from the sailors and instructors themselves.
Manhasset Bay’s junior sailing program is a full-day program that incorporates on-water sailing instruction with learning nautical skills on shore. Throughout the program, individual instructors have different methodologies and strategies on how to teach; however, for most, a huge focus is placed on making learning fun, enjoyable, and engaging.
“We try to make our drills and learning activities into games,” explained Anne Wachowicz, a third-year instructor for beginner Optimists.
Particularly with beginner sailors, instructors seek to instill a passion for sailing that will lead them to become lifelong sailors. First, however, they must get the sailors to know their boat and feel confident sailing it.
“I want to make them feel comfortable in their boat,” shared Kristin Hanley, an instructor for beginner Pixels and Blue-Jays, returning for her fourth summer at Manhasset Bay. “I feel that when they’re comfortable they have more fun.”
“We definitely try to not scare them,” added Wachowicz.
At the same time, in more advanced classes geared towards racing sailors, the fun and games get toned down a bit, in favor of more serious racing practice. These classes also tend to draw older sailors who generally prefer to be taught straightforwardly.
“There are fewer games and they learn a lot as advanced sailors,” remarked Robert Wands, a third-year instructor for advanced Pixels. “And as older sailors, they like that.”
Some of the sailors themselves really value their time spent with their instructors, and can see them as both a teacher and a friend.
“We have a lot of fun together sailing,” explained Carter Shields, a fourth-year Laser sailor. “But we still work hard.”
“I think the instructors really prepare us to race because they do lots of drills and start practices,” shared Nicky Fuhrman, an advanced Pixel sailor. “But they’re all fun, and that helps keep us motivated.”
“I think it’s important that they learn these skills before they go out on the water, then they know them well and can apply them while they’re sailing,” explained Aliandra Homayuni, one of the three on-shore instructors.
There are also themed “Fun Fridays” that give sailors and instructors alike a fun event to look forward to every week. Themes include a patriotic day, Halloween, and a jersey day.
“I’m looking forward to Halloween,” claimed second-year Opti sailor Lucas Vermeulen. “I’m getting dressed up for it.”
Overall, sailors find the Manhasset Bay program captivating and practical in different ways, and there is surely no shortage of cheerful instructors eager to help them enjoy learning how to sail.
“We have a great group of kids here,” described instructor Hanley. “So far, we’re having a great summer!”
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