Archive for » June 15th, 2014«

Sailing class brings people together on Lone Lake

Turns out that sailing is a popular pastime on South Whidbey.

Years of offering children’s classes expanded into adult classes last year, and often both were full. This year, the adult classes that began June 10 had spots available. Less-than-filled courses didn’t stop the South Whidbey Yacht Club, which runs the program through the South Whidbey Parks Recreation District, from offering a four-session class for veterans in early June.

“There’s a lot of veterans coming back with PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and other issues not defined that strongly, that deserve to have some fun, some recreation and go sailing,” said Bob Rodgers, the Learn to Sail director of the yacht club.

“They’re just flat-out fun. Getting people out there who want to be out there, that’s fun,” he added.

What started out as a niche summer parks program has turned into one of its more successful offerings. This year, no additional sessions were scheduled, though an intermediate level was created for third-year sailing students or children 13 and older in early July, when all of the youth classes begin.

“Kids that started out with it a few years ago are really blossoming,” said Carrie Monforte, parks program director, who credited the activity as being an important one for people both young and old.

“It’s an amazing resource we have here, our natural resources — the mountains, the water,” she said. “It would be a shame to never have a chance to sail around here. It teaches self reliance, perseverance, paying attention to details that matter when you get into a boat.”

South Whidbey Parks runs the registration, processing the money and paperwork. The yacht club is in charge of teaching people how to read the wind, how to tack and the difference between a jib and a main sail.

“They are the experts, not us,” Monforte laughed.

Sailing can be an expensive hobby. Even the small vessels between 12 and 15 feet used by the yacht club for lessons on Lone Lake can cost $1,500. A used, full sailboat can run several thousand dollars. But Monforte praised the yacht club for helping their pupils understand the costs better.

“The folks that are running the program demonstrate that it’s not an overly expensive program with their fun little boats,” she said.

Rodgers and the yacht club leaders hope to see growth in coming years with an advanced class that goes out into the saltwater around the island. Eventually, Rodgers said he’d like to create a competitive sailing club from South Whidbey that races against schools around Puget Sound. That is, however, at least one year out.

“We’re not quite ready,” he said. “ … we really need high school kids to start thinking about that.”

In the coming weeks, look out to Lone Lake for the zig-zagging triangle sails of the yacht club classes, including the new 15-foot Vangaurd 15s — just don’t blink.

“The Vanguards are so much faster that Lone Lake becomes real small when you’re moving in those things,” Rodgers said.

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Sailing: Macgregor selected for Rio test event

Sailing: Lucy Macgregor selected for Rio test event

By Andy Mitchell

BRAZIL-BOUND: Lucy Macgregor

POOLE-based Olympian Lucy Macgregor and team-mate Andrew Walsh have been named in the British Sailing Team’s 30-strong squad for the Olympic test events in Rio de Janeiro.

British sailors will compete with their international rivals across 10 Olympic classes on the 2016 racecourses in Guanabara Bay from August 2-9 as preparation for the games in Brazil begins in earnest.

Macgregor, lined up to contest the new Nacra 17 multihull class, described the event as “the first big step along the journey” towards fulfilling her medal-winning ambitions.

“We’re really pleased to be selected, it’s a big deal,” the 27-year-old said. “For us, it’s our first taste of the Olympics and how we’ll need to perform and act as a team.”

Macgregor switched to the two-person Nacra 17 after the racing event she contested alongside younger sister Kate and fellow Poole sailor Annie Lush at London 2012 – the women’s Elliot 6m – was removed from the Olympic programme.

“The Nacra couldn’t be more different really,” she added. “It’s a fantastic boat and I’m really enjoying the challenge of getting into something completely different and new.

“It means there is a lot to learn but that’s no bad thing. It’s great to have that new challenge.

“No one has the answers at the moment. We’re just trying to work as hard as possible to figure out how we can make the equipment go quickly in every wind condition.”

Although Macgregor is no longer teamed up with sibling Kate, she is keeping her campaign in the family by partnering Walsh, the long-term boyfriend of the eldest Macgregor sister, Nicky.

Walsh, 32, narrowly missed out on Olympic selection in the Tornado catamaran class for Beijing in 2008 before the multihulls were axed from the programme last time round.

He sailed professionally in 40-foot catamarans on the Extreme Sailing Series before being lured back when the multihulls made their return for 2016 in the form of the new Nacra 17.

“We’re a great combination as a team,” Walsh said. “Lucy comes from slower boat racing but she’s got a whole heap of brilliant skills for racing in really tight situations. “Hopefully, I can bring some experience of the faster asymmetric boats and catamaran specific sailing, and we can gel our different areas of expertise.

“It all seems to be going in the right direction so far, so hopefully we’ll come good in the end.”

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