Preparations underway for junior sailing program at Northern Yacht Club

Their first task is to pull the boats out of storage, something that can take a few days.

“We pretty well know what boats need a bit of work,” explains instructor Stephen Cantwell, who has been with the program for eight years. “It takes a lot of work to get them geared up and to make sure they are all properly equipped.”

There is enough time over the next few weeks for Cantwell and fellow instructors Mitchell Shaw and Emily Hatcher to take care of the bigger jobs before the kids arrive.

Over the last couple of years, there has been a significant jump in the number of beginner sailors from eight to 10 years of age.

“We always have a waiting list,” said Shaw, who, along with Hatcher, is a lifeguard at the Northside Community Pool in Sydney Mines.

“This is a great summer job, we aren’t stuck indoors all the time and the kids are great. We are doing something we really enjoy.”

The Northern Yacht Club Community Marine Centre, is home to the junior sailing program on the Northside.  Having a dedicated space has made it much easier for the instructors to teach the junior sailing program.

They do have some classroom work, but the majority of time they are on the water.

The junior sailing program runs three, two-week sessions and an additional weeklong session that takes place during Regatta Week in Baddeck.

Last year there were 35 kids enrolled in junior sailing.

“This year we are going with seven instructors and expect to have at least 40 kids and there is usually a waiting list,” Cantwell said. “Prevention is key and for us as instructors, safety is a priority. That’s why its important that we maintain our certification and keep up with the various courses such as CPR and first aid.”

Throughout the season Cantewell and his fellow instructors keep a close watch on the weather.

“We have VHS radios supplied by the coast guard. Technology is pretty important from the aspect of checking the weather and being able to communicate on the water.”

Along with the junior sailing program, the Northern Yacht Club also offers the Sail Able program. It runs in conjunction with the Learn to Sail program and operates two boats, which have been specifically designed to accommodate sailors with disabilities.

Registration for the sailing for yacht club members will take place Tuesday from 7-8 p.m. and for non-members Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. in the junior sailing building.

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