My kids and I caught a glimpse of the sail boats before they headed to Mackinac Island. I was explaining the event to my oldest daughter when she asked about learning to sail herself. We did some research (she is 7 and really into using the computer!) and found that sailing became an Olympic sport in 1900.
However, more and more people are picking up the sport. With the Chicago Yacht Club not far away, we were thinking a good way to “test the waters” would be looking into signing up for a sailing summer camp so she could learn some basics and get started without investing huge amounts of money and to gauge her interest.
“Once you know the basics, an entire new frontier is open and the possibilities are almost endless. I am always surprised that in a city like Chicago with such a vast lakefront that so few people have access to the water, and I am thrilled when new people, young and old, want to get involved in the sport,” says Martha Pitt, Sailing School Director at Chicago Yacht Club. The club is offering lessons and research shows several benefits to sailing, which includes: improving hand-eye coordination, balance and greatly improving upper and lower body strength. Other benefits are hand and finger strength, and the ability to sharpen quick thinking skills.
Often times, kids who become heavily involved in sailing become highly interested in the weather so they learn the weather patterns as well as wind patterns.
“The CYC Sailing School program begins for 5 year olds in the Dinghy Demon class. The course is short, a few hours a day in sessions, never longer than a week, and is designed to expose the kids to water, small dinghy sailboats, and beginning to expand their nautical knowledge. This is one of our most popular classes, and only meets a few times a summer. Once the kids are 8 years old, they can begin our regular full-day Sailing School programs, starting in the Beginner Bug class, where they sail our small Bug sailboats.” said Pitt who adds that they also added a Beginner/Intermediate class for new teenage sailors who are too big for the Bugs. “As each sailor progresses, we have a sequence of classes that he or she will move up through, ultimately getting into our racing program. Between these three beginner level courses, we have options for every beginner sailor from 5 years old to about 16,” informs Pitt.
CYC has just recently introduced a Keelboat Program for Adults, as well, offering various courses and clinics to cater to different people’s ambitions, so ultimately we have something for everyone!