Dillon Yacht Club program allows youths to set sail
DILLON – Last summer, a sudden afternoon thunderstorm blew across Dillon Reservoir.
Out in the middle of the reservoir, Gregory Johnson of Breckenridge had control of a small sailboat when a strong gust of wind capsized his boat.
The 13-year-old knew exactly what to do, though, as he put his weight into the ropes of the14-foot long pico and brought the boat back upright before sailing it through the storm to the Dillon Yacht Club.
“It was a little scary because of the wind,” said Johnson, who is now 14. “But you can roll the boats back up just putting your weight to one side.”
Expertise on what to do in a situation like an unexpected thunderstorm is but one of many things Johnson learned last summer during a five-day sailing clinic in the Dillon Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program.
Now in it’s third year, the program runs through the month of July and gives children between the ages of 9 and 17 an opportunity to learn all about sailing.
“The way to get new sailors, like many sports, is to get them when they’re young and get them addicted,” said Aleda Kresge, who directs the program.
For 2004, Kresge has expanded the program to make room for up to 40 children to participate, 25 more than last year.
The clinics run for five weeks from July 5 to Aug. 6 with five-day clinics each week running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The clinics are taught by American Sailing Association (ASA) certified coaches, Kresge said.
According to Johnson, he had enough skills by the third day of his clinic to sail solo across Dillon Resevoir.
“On our first day we just went out there and learned a little bit so it was easy for beginners,” Johnson said.
“The second day we got a little more into it and after three days we were sailing along just fine.”
By the end of the clinic, the students engaged in rescue drills, learning how to turn a boat around quickly and stop it quickly when it comes to saving a person who has fallen overboard, Johnson said.
Vivienne Johnson, Gregory’s mother, said Gregory has been on sailboats for much of his young life and determined the program would be a great way for their son to begin learning his own skills.
“My husband and I both sail, and since Gregory had done some sailing, we decided we would take advantage of the program,” Vivienne said.
“It’s a great program. The instructors stick right with them when they’re first learning.”
According to Kresge, the small boats used in the program are perfect for teaching children the basics of sailing.
“It’s basically a small Laser,” she said. “It’s a really nice performing boat.”
Vivienne Johnson added: “I think it’s good for the kids to learn in a smaller vessel. They can get a better feel for it.”
The program has access to three of the picos, which were provided by the Summit Foundation when the program was founded in 2002, Kresge said.
“We do have a grant proposal in for the Summit Founation to get three more boats,” Kresge said.
For more information, contact Aleda Kresge at (970) 668-0951 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at email@example.com.
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