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Setting sail for summer fun

The club harbours a collection of boats for its members and students.
The club harbours a collection of boats for its members and students.

Whereas many summer activities have been interrupted due to the rainy weather, wetness alone doesn’t faze the K-W Sailing Club’s daycamps and lessons. In fact, getting into Conestogo Lake is precisely the goal.

Hot and sunny weather, however, are likely big motivators for those looking for a summertime diversion. Learning to sail is a fine idea for kids and adults alike, suggests the club’s sailing teachers.

Head instructor Spencer Gough and senior coach Sam Parker note that parts of sailing just come naturally.

“The first day you’re out on the water. Sailing, if you think about it theoretically it’s kind of hard to grasp the physics and all, but once you get out in the boat and there’s an instructor to help you along, it comes along pretty quickly,” Parker explained on July 9.

Gough and Parker sat at a picnic bench beneath the club house’s upper deck on Conestogo Lake, as their students sailed on the lake in front of them. Gough’s beginner students were on the lake on Tuesday afternoon.

“They are out sailing around right now and they are having no trouble at all going around the course, but when I start quizzing them on the sail theory – say, ‘what part of the boat is this?’ – sometimes they are a little bit lost,” he said.

To get an idea of what the sport is about, prospective students can get a free boat ride on the weekends before signing up for lessons. Gough and Parker both agree nothing compares to the feeling.

“There are a lot of people that get into it for cruising, that relaxing-sunset kind of thing. But there are people like us who got into it – well, I got into it because I was afraid of water and my parents bought a boat – but it’s the rush when you know you are going really fast,” Gough said.

“Sailing is a sport where it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, if you are disabled or not. I’ve seen people paralyzed from the neck down sailing. You can do endless different modifications to your boat,” Parker added.

The average day at the youth camp starts with a shuttle bus that picks up kids from Kitchener at the Aud, Waterloo at Ecole L’Harmonie near Bridgeport Road, and Elmira on the way up to Conestogo Lake.

Lessons are the first order of business, followed by some sailing time, lunch, more sailing and games in the afternoon. A favourite with the students is dodgeball.

“On a rainy day we’ve got a big upstairs area with a TV so we can do some sailing videos and some indoor games we can play as well,” Gough said.

It’s not all fun and games, however: there’s always theory and skill to be taught as well, as students move through CANSail levels.

CANSail Dinghy Progamming was updated in 2012 for Canadian sailing schools. The new rules take into account the traditional White, Bronze, Learn-to-Race, Silver and Gold program created by the Canadian Yachting Association (now Sail Canada) and were formed to teach proper yacht handling skills. The K-W Sailing Club teaches levels one through four of the program. This means youths and adults can move from the basics to beginner racing techniques.

The youth day camp runs 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., with evening adult lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays and all-day Saturdays for students over 18.

On Tuesdays the instructors run a training night for students who want tips on their sailing. Gough monitors the sailors and comes around to their boats while they try their hand at various techniques.

For more information, visit www.kwsailing.org.

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