Sept 28, 2017

Hi John,

I am sending along an article about the rewards our crew has felt after 6 years of mentorship with a young person out of our Sarnia Yacht Club Junior Sailing program.

Perhaps it is of interest to you readers.
Brian Gilmour
Point Edward, ON


Across Ontario junior sailor programs are the future of club memberships. Not only does it kindle an interest in sailing among the participants, it exposes the benefits of club membership to their parents and often to retired grandparents. In addition to the formal youth sailing programs, many captains augment their crew with young persons. This can be most rewarding for the Captain, his crew and the young crew member.

Mike Fraser and Captain John MckayTest Your Heart Captain

Seven years ago I approached our Captain John McKay and the crew of 02 (Oxygen), now Enterprise, to suggest that we invite a young sailing enthusiast to join our crew. The crew accepted the idea and we approached the coordinator of youth sailing at our Sarnia Yacht Club to help us identify a candidate.

15 year old Mike Fraser a student in the SYC summer sailing program was recommended to us. We invited Mike to join our crew. Our objective was to provide an opportunity for a young sailing enthusiast to apply his learning in the competitive environment of Wednesday night racing. We also saw an opportunity to provide guidance and support to someone, who soon would be making decisions about school and a future career. Perhaps, we could just be a sounding board to a maturing young person.

Mike Tries Out Stethescope On JohnMike tries out stethescope on John

We believe that mentorship is a way for club members to develop young sailing enthusiasts into future club members. Our passion for sailing might lead our student/crew members to adopt sailing as their sport. We felt that the future of sailing needs continuous promotion and marketing so that others will recognize the enjoyment and other benefits of sailing.

Over the next seven years, Mike often arrived at the dock on his bike, then spring onto the boat with youthful strength and agility. Qualities that began to take on greater value, as Mike developed into our foredeck guy. He continued to be a part of the junior sailing program, becoming an instructor, then head instructor and this year played a major role in evaluating and preparing a safety guideline for the program. His knowledge of sailing grew too. As he participated in more races, his understanding of tactics, wind patterns, tuning allowed him to exert more influence to our onboard decisions. In 2015 Captain John promoted Mike to 2nd Mate. We were rewarded this summer with some of our first 1st place finishes against a group of very competitive and experienced Mackinaw sailors, who just happen to be in our Wednesday night flight.

Mike FraserScholastically, Mike completed high school and entered the University of Western Ontario. He hardly had a choice as Captain John, J.J and Steve are all Western grads. While a strong relationship developed between all the crew and our student-sailor, a special bond developed between Mike and Captain John. It led to Mike being recommended for a summer position with a science research team in Africa last summer. As Mike communicated to me in an email, “Brian, I am so lucky to have a group of guys like our crew supporting me.”

As is our tradition, we celebrate the season’s end with a BBQ at the boat. This year it was held early, as Mike was leaving to go back to school. It was a special celebration of the sailing season and Mike’s acceptance into the Schulich School of Medicine at Western. On behalf of the crew, Captain John presented Mike with his personal stethoscope, along with a number of other less serious gifts. To a person, our crew felt that we had been rewarded ten-fold. What started out, as mentorship of a teenager, turned into a positive two way exchange.

Mike’s next six years will be rigorous. It might not allow much time for sailing. We are confident however, that he will pop off his bike on occasion and spring onto the bow. We also know that someday in the future we will be invited to crew on Mike’s new sail boat. Will mentorship continue? Well, prior to our BBQ, Mike arrived with a 14 year old junior sailor, who Mike recommended, as someone he would like us to take onboard. The rewards of mentorship will continue!
Enterprise Crew: Captain John McKay and crew Steve Waite, John Kabel, Ralph Wasserbaech, Brian Gilmour, Bill Cornell.

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