Schwatka Lake half full with Optimist Sailing Club

A member of the Optimist Sailing Club of Vancouver, says that sailing could blossom in the Yukon — the territory just needs a little wind in…

A member of the Optimist Sailing Club of Vancouver, says that sailing could blossom in the Yukon — the territory just needs a little wind in its sails.

“Our goal is to expand sailing around the province of BC and now into the Yukon,” said Rob Douglas, one of the sailing coaches and one of the organizers of the camp.

“It was done by putting together a trailer that we could (use to) transport the equipment to smaller clubs and communities that haven’t had a chance to offer sailing programs to kids.”

After a successful first season last year, the club, which travels to communities in Western Canada to introduce sailing to youngsters, decided to add Whitehorse to the list of 18 locations it is visiting this year.

“We’re really excited to have them up here,” said Krista Mroz, leisure program co-ordinator with Whitehorse’s parks and recreation department. “It’s a great opportunity for local Yukon kids, an opportunity that most would never have.

“This was a trial project for us to see what interest would be like, if this kind of program is wanted by the public up here,” said Mroz. “Who knows where it’ll go in the future … maybe a local sailing club will develop out of this.”

Twenty-six kids, between seven and 14, are attending the camp that runs from Monday to Friday at Schwatka Lake. As half the kids learn the ways of the sailboats, the other half spends time in four-person kayaks, and after lunch they switch.

“We pair younger kids with older kids so that the older kids can help the younger kids learn,” said Mroz. “It’s also for a safety factor; we’ve got older kids looking out for younger kids.”

The camp is directed towards youngsters because, according to Douglas, if a child does not attempt a sport by the age of 12, there’s a 90 per cent chance that he or she will never give it a shot.

“We bring it to kids that young so we can get them into sailing and show them how much fun the water can be,” said Douglas. “And we teach them things the right way early on.

“They learn how to control the sail, how to test the sail in order to go fast.

“(They learn) how to steer the boats … They learn how to capsize and … bring their boats back up.”

The club reaches far beyond instruction in sailing fundamentals, and does what it can to help future sailors obtain vessels of their own.

“The idea is that we buy the boats, absorb the initial cost, and within a year to two years we’re selling off the boats,” said Douglas. “That’s 16 boats going into the province, into the Yukon each year. We’re hoping that within 10 years the Yukon will have enough boats to start their own program.

“And we sell them off at half-price basically,” he added.

In other communities, the camp was usually limited to 20 students, however the response in Whitehorse was beyond expectations, with eventually nine applicants being placed on a waiting list.

The price of the camp was $250 and the proceeds went to the BC Sailing Federation.

Next week, the club will head to Williams Lake, BC, for the final camp of the season.

“I really like sailing — it’s fun,” said Sam Fleming, 7, one of the students in the camp. “The kayaks are not as fun because I always get my bum wet when I sit down in them.

“My favourite part (of sailing) is steering at the back,” he said.

“I’ve never sailed before but I learned how to sail when you have a headwind,” said Sage Verrier-Siska, 12, another student of the wind and water.

“Today I tried being solo for a bit on the lake … most people have to have two people (in the boat) and it was really fun.”

The club gets its name from the Optimist boats it uses. These boats are one- or two-person vessels that were designed in the late 1940s.

They are about 2.25 metres long and are not much more than a tub and a mast. Although they can hardly be compared to the yachts in the American Cup, the petit vessels are the most common boat in the world and are raced internationally.

In fact, Canada’s national Optimist championships are taking place this week in Halifax.

More information can be found at the club’s website www.moss.bcsailing.bc.ca.

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read