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From Dinghies to Keelboats: TISC Kids Learn New Racing Skills

A group of kids who normally sail out of Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC) got to take it up a notch when they participated in a Racing Skills Development Clinic on October 30, hosted by the St Francis Yacht Club (StFYC). The purpose of the clinic was to give diverse racing sailors an opportunity for more training and growth, and to mix it up with experienced sailors including Olympians Pam Healy and Helena Scutt.

A combined initiative of US Sailing, StFYC, and Treasure Island Sailing Center, the format for the one-day clinic started with ground school, followed by lunch and a pre-sailing debrief prior to rigging the club J22s and receiving a safety briefing from the coaches.

“US Sailing, StFYC, TISC all recognize that we need to bring more kids into sailing from diverse backgrounds and we would like to have them move up into keel boats when it’s appropriate in their experience,” StFYC Staff Commodore Paul Heineken noted. “To do that we put together this day and kids sailed races with hot shot coaches aboard. The kids had a great time, and we want to do more of this.”

Twelve kids participated ranging in age from 10-14 and all of whom had sailed for a good number of years in dinghies at TISC and who were keen to broaden their horizons. They were able to learn about rigging, crew positioning, and boat handling on a J22. The day started out with tacking and gybing maneuvers followed by practice starts and finished with some races to exercise the new skills. Coaches focused on the communication and teamwork required for larger boats.

14-year-old Mila Kane from San Francisco has been sailing for seven years and has been on the TISC race team for 3-4 years. Sailing is her favorite sport, and she was excited to race keelboats for the first time.

“I was interested to practice starts and learn about the acceleration time on a keelboat and how different it is compared to dinghies,” she said. Mila usually sails with her sister Sienna, who crews for Mila.

“Many of the kids were exposed to keel boat sailing for the first time and learned how to communicate on a boat with more than two people,” Helena Scutt commented. “Those who drove learned how to focus on steering and let their teammates be their eyes on the racecourse. While Pam and I shared a tiny bit about our Olympic journeys, it was also emphasized how many types of sailing one can enjoy, and how many different skills are needed in the sailing industry.”

Collette Zaro, StFYC member who helped coach was impressed with how the sailors picked up new skills, asked questions, and their overall confidence on the water.

“They gained an understanding of the timing and level of coordination to execute maneuvers, especially during the starting sequence, and the importance of keeping your crew informed. Whether they pursue keel boats or continue dinghy sailing, it was a fun, rewarding day that left both participants and coaches with a new perspective.”

Photos: Courtesy Peter Lyons

Michelle SladeFrom Dinghies to Keelboats: TISC Kids Learn New Racing Skills