Aug 8, 2019

Junior Sail ProgramsSean Wylie, Andrew Kanarek, Timothy Morland

When Steve Reid needed to rebuild his racing crew a few years ago, he decided to look to an untapped resource: Etobicoke Yacht Club’s Junior Sail program. His spouse and steady crew Maggie had decided she wanted to pursue other hobbies, and his successive crews had moved on to other things.

Looking around, Steve realized EYC’s popular junior teaching program was turning out one competitive racer after another who had nowhere to go once they graduated out of the dinghy program. At the same time, some of the keenest junior sailors were casting longing glances at the keelboat fleet. Steve invited a couple of them to come on board his boat Still Knot Working as crew and has never looked back.

In the four years since then, some of EYC’s best and brightest Junior Sail graduates have come on board Steve’s C&C 27 to learn both racing strategy and keel boat handling from a seasoned and winning sailor.

Now Steve is out to spread the word to other clubs and other racers around the lake and Canada: Take a good, hard look at the potential in your junior sail programs. Steve suggests thinking of them not only as a great source of crew talent, but also as the future of sailing — and sailing clubs. “After all, who are we old guys all going to sell our boats to?” he asks with a chuckle.

“Getting and keeping racing crew is for all of us a daunting challenge. The solution is to find a source that is constantly being refilled — and that’s the great junior sail programs run by clubs all over North America and Canada.  “At EYC we run more than 200 kids though the program each summer. These 13- and 14-year-olds sailing Optis, Lasers, Fevas and other dinghies are tremendously skilled in sail handling, racing tactics and being at the helm. They are totally capable of filling virtually any position on a keel boat. And they’re strong — stronger than you might think; they’re keen and they love learning.”

Andrew Kanarek and Sean Wylie, two of his first recruits who recently raced Still Knot Working to first place in its class in the Lake Ontario 300 Challenge, Scotch Bonnet course, say that opportunity is what has kept them in the game. “Before I was invited to race on Still Knot Working I really had no idea how or if I'd sail past my time in the Junior Sail Program. After finishing my first season with Steve and the guys, I had a fun and easy way to be able to race consistently after I left the Junior Sail,” Sean says.

Timothy Morland, another Still Knot Working regular, echoes those views: “Before I sailed on Still Knot Working, I never had much interest in keelboat sailing. The excitement and novelty of sailing on a bigger and faster boat is what drew me in, while the friends I made is what made me stay. After sailing with Steve for four years, I see myself happily continuing to crew for him and others until I can afford my own keelboat.”

Although he derives huge satisfaction from teaching the next generation, Steve feels it may well be in all of the clubs’ best — some might say selfish — interests to keep that generation of young sailors hooked on the sport. The youngest new member at EYC, he points out, is 35, but the average age is closing in on 50.  “To keep our clubs growing and full, we need to bring young people in, we need to find a way to keep them sailing even after they graduate from junior sail.

“Right now we all invest heavily in their training until they are about 17, and then we turn them loose and they have no place to go. Once they go away to university and take other jobs, we lose them. Unless they’re instructors, or on the competitive circuit, they rarely come back to sailing.”

The challenge then is for clubs to find a way to keep their younger sailors involved in sailing beyond junior sail, right through university and while they’re establishing themselves in their careers, says Steve.

Solutions for all sailing clubs to ponder

To help make all that happen, Steve suggests two solutions: At the individual level, consider handing your boat over to a young crew; and at the club level, build a fleet of boats that young sailors who cannot afford their own boat can race or cruise until they are ready to buy their own.

He’s already put the first idea into practice — and convinced a number of EYC members to follow suit.

In early 2018, Steve was invited to race a new 8-metre that a member had brought into EYC. “I’ve always loved those boats. I really wanted to do this, but I did not want the Mark V C&C fleet to lose a boat; I had worked hard to build that fleet, to have seven or eight boats racing competitively.

“So I asked my young crew if they would like to race my boat. And they jumped at the chance.

I spent May and June 2018 on the boat, just watching them, and they all did a superb job, they were all great at sail trim, great on the helm.” When the new 8-metre arrived in August 2018, Steve handed Still Knot Working over to his young crew. “They won EYC’s Tuesday and Thursday evening racing season and the EYC Open hands down! And that earned them a lot of respect from others in the fleet.”

In August 2018 Steve took the idea of training young racers on keel boats to the next level: The Next Generation Regatta was born.

He convinced two other C&C 27 owners to hand their boats over to junior sailors; owners could stay on board (“to protect their interests”) but could not be an active crew member. The three most experienced of the 19 sailors who signed up for the Regatta were chosen to be skippers and picked their crews (“but I made sure the Still Knot Working crew was not all together”). To assign boats, skippers picked a name out of a hat. The crews then had two hours to practice on the assigned boats before the two-race regatta got underway.

“The way these kids organized themselves, and came together as a team to race on unfamiliar boats with only two hours of practice was absolutely terrific!” says Steve. “It speaks well of the job we are doing in Junior Sail, it speaks well of the instructors we have at EYC and of the resiliency of these young people.” In fact the venture was so successful that plans are underway for an even bigger Next Gen Regatta at EYC for 2019 and beyond.

“Being able to crew on a keel boat with others your age is an amazing experience in which anyone who is interested should be able to participate,” adds Sean. “Steve has done a great job facilitating this, but I think clubs need to push it even further by advertising it as an option to those interested and encouraging skippers to follow in Steve's footsteps. Without a weekly dingy racing scene. especially one where you can borrow a boat nearby, crewing on keel boats is the only real option to keep racing after leaving the Junior Sail Program.”

Adds Timothy: “I’m confident that Steve's work has already created five lifelong sailors out of me and the rest of the first wave of youth who crewed for him.

"I'm also sure there will be plenty more to follow. I think that the key to what Steve did was taking on several of us as crew at the same time, giving us someone our age to talk to while not racing. This allowed us to learn how much fun keelboats can be without feeling too out of place around people far older than us.”

Steve’s long-term hope is that successive generations of young sailors will continue to race Still Knot Working; he plans to donate the boat to the club — for use by junior sailors — once he has given up the sailing life.

He’s also convinced EYC to set up a new intermediate member category and to purchase a fleet of Sharks as part of a longer-term strategy to make sailing more affordable to young sailors who have graduated out of Junior Sail but cannot shoulder the cost of full membership and a boat.

“I was a young gaffer when a friend of the family instilled a real love of sailing in me. My goal is to keep that flame burning in the next generation of sailors.”

Lifestyle

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Cobourg Yacht Club - 2015 Sailing instructorsKatherine Stone

Like many other harbours on Lake Ontario, Cobourg has seen its fair share of changes. Screams used to be heard from kids piled into a toboggan on wheels that went hurtling down a wooden slide into the harbour. Above it all was the bustling din from the waterfront of ship’s whistles, train engines, foghorns and thundering coal cars. It is now a rather serene place for the locals and visitors to enjoy various watercraft. Fortunately, the beautiful beach that lines the waterfront is still a star attraction for the town.

Located 95 kilometres east of Toronto and 62 kilometres east of Oshawa on the north edge of Lake Ontario, United Empire Loyalists first starting arriving in the area as early as the 1780s. The first settlement in 1798 was called Buckville, later renamed Amherst, then called Hamilton (after the township) and also nicknamed Hardscrabble. It wasn’t until 1819 that they finally settled on the name of Cobourg, which was incorporated as a town in 1837. In the late 1820s large schooners with passengers and cargo had to anchor well off shore, as there was only a landing wharf. A group of Toronto businessmen formed the Cobourg Harbour Company which built the wooden Eastern Pier from tolls charged for the use of the harbour.

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GENERAL LIMITATIONS

14 AVOIDING CONTACT

A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible. However, a right-of-way boat or one entitled to room or mark-room

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CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

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Beneteau Oceanis 30.1As boat builders clamber to create ever-bigger platforms for ever-more generous budgets, the entry-level cruiser has become an elusive animal. Sure, if you want to daysail, there are plenty of small open boats from which to choose, but if you want a freshly built pocket cruiser, you’re in for a long search. Enter French builder Groupe Beneteau, which identified this gap in the market and set about creating the Oceanis 30.1, an adorable little cruiser that resembles her larger siblings in all but length and price. With all she offers, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her a mini yacht.

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KingstonBy Amy Hogue

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is the place to go if you love to explore new waterways, fantastic views, and exceptional boating opportunities.

Sitting at the intersection of three world-class Canadian bodies of water, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal (Cataraqui River from Kingston to Newboro), the water’s influence is deeply woven into Kingston’s culture and history. 

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