By Samantha Holmes
The Petpeswick Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program enjoyed record-breaking participation this summer as more than 70 children and youth hoisted sail. Registration has tripled over the past few years, and the Club is planning to expand the program next year.
This summer there were eight weeks of instruction for children aged five to 16. The sailing instructors work with all levels of experience. This year’s 3-person team included Jacob Pearce, an Eastern Shore high school student who progressed through the PYC sailing program himself.
Junior Sailing Program Director, Elizabeth Jardine, is thrilled to see the program grow and mature. “We have been trying hard over the last few years to expose more youth to the program and show them the fun and benefits of learning how to sail,” said Jardine.
“As a past student myself years ago, I know first-hand the amazing experience sailing offers. Beyond learning the skills to sail, you build new friendships - we have students from across Nova Scotia and Canada – learn water safety skills, and experience a surge in confidence on the water.”
Part of the program’s recent success can be attributed to joining forces with the Halifax Regional Municipality in 2015 to offer an introduction to sailing program (Wet Feet) through its recreation office. This partnership exposes younger children (aged five to eight) to the sport at a reduced fee. It has also resulted in more children being bit by the sailing bug and signing up to sail in future summers.
The Petpeswick Yacht Club, a volunteer-run non-profit organization, is planning to expand its fleet in light of continued growth in enrollment.
“We need to buy more youth sailboats, and we are also on the hunt for an additional coach’s boat, used to monitor the kids on the water and maintain our diligence for safety,” said Jardine. “The equipment is quite expensive. We are aggressively pursuing grants and seeking private donations so we can add to our inventory and expose more kids to this great summer activity.”
To date, $10,000 has been pledged in private donations. Residents or businesses wishing to donate to the youth sailing program campaign to purchase new boats can email [email protected] for more information.
To learn more about the junior sailing visit petpeswickyachtclub.ca