Getting An Early Sailing Start
By Anne McKay Garris
The only thing more delightful than watching a group of youngsters maneuver their small boats around the bay, is being one of the young sailors. Clearwater, where the ultimate youngsters' boat, the Optimist Pram, was born, will soon have a full fledged youth sailing program out of the Clearwater Sailing Center. The Optimist Pram had its beginning on Clearwater Beach 58 years ago and has since spread worldwide to become the largest one-design fleet in the world. The first fleet sailed out of what is now the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center.
In the new program at the Sailing Center there is already an Optimist Pram Green Fleet for youngsters under 15, and a fleet of 420s for the older youth. The recently organized Youth Sailing Committee of the Sailing Center takes the responsibility for coaching and training these young sailors, watching over them as they practice in Clearwater Bay, off of Sand Key, and escorting them to regattas elsewhere. Currently, the young people practice on Saturdays and Sundays, always remembering the aim of the sailing program is "fun first, winning second."
"Youngsters learn independence, decision making, self-reliance and good sportsmanship along with a skill that will give them pleasure all of their lives," says Frank Emser, a member of the Youth Sailing Committee.
The aim of the Sailing Committee is to "teach children to sail and make sailing accessible to every child."
To fund some of the goals of the group, they are planning a Sailabration for Sunday, May 18, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Sailing Center on Sand Key. The Sailabration will include a dinner from the Island Way Grill and Cold Stone Creamery Dessert as well as a silent auction and live raffle. The youth team will give sailing demonstrations and there will be live music for your enjoyment.
Cost of the affair is $25 for adults and $10 for children under twelve. Among the items donated for silent auction will be original art work, dinners at local restaurants, week-end stays at beach hotels and an assortment of services and other useful items. Memberships at the Sailing Center and other sailing benefits will also be auctioned.
Proceeds from the event will be used to advance the youth sailing program and, among other things, make sailing available to children whose families might not be able to afford to buy their own boat.
The May 18 Sailabration will be a great opportunity for families to give their children a glimpse of the fun and excitement of starting early to be an expert sailor.
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