Juniors set sail at the Dillon Yacht Club
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
DILLON – Perched on the back half of a 420 sailboat, Jordan Nelson certainly seemed right at home.
He jibed and tacked the small ship through the Dillon Reservoir, giving some instruction and orders to his novice assistant – me – all while making sure the boom at the bottom of the main sail kept from demonstrating on my head how its name originated.
Though Nelson isn’t quite a teenager – he turns 13 next week – he’s spent the better part of his last four summers on a boat with the Dillon Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program.
And he can’t think of a place he’d rather be.
“My brother and I kind of beat up on each other at home,” he said with a smile, “but out here, it’s just calm.”
Nelson and a handful of other kids took part in one of the yacht club’s Junior Sailing Summer Camps, Thursday, at the Dillon Marina. The DYC holds these camps every week from mid-June until Aug. 14 at the Junior Sailing Club at the far-east end of the marina.
“Kids learn everything from knots to points of sail to safety, boat parts, sail parts – they get a lot in a week,” camp instructor Stacey Brooks said. “They really absorb a lot.”
Monday through Friday, Brooks and the rest of the staff take kids ages 10-16 through the basics of sailing, making sure they get to spend plenty of time in the single-sail Pico 14 and 420 boats the camp uses.
But the staff doesn’t just throw the kids a life jacket and push them out to sea; there’s plenty of safety to go over on Day 1.
“Everyone has to go on the dock with a life jacket,” Brooks explained of the basic safety rules. “Everyone has to have a wetsuit because of the temperatures in the water. Everyone needs to have the right kind of shoes. On Mondays, we go over a lot of the safety things.”
Also on the first day, Brooks spends two hours doing capsizing drills.
“Those boats will capsize at times when they’re out there, and it’s important they learn,” Brooks explained. “That way when they’re out there and it happens, they’re not panicking and they know how to right the boat.”
For camper Teddy Marchildon, 12, the capsizing drills are his favorite part. His older brother Sam, though, prefers the speed of racing.
“I like going fast,” he said with a laugh. “There hasn’t been too much wind (this week), but it’s fun to get going fast.”
The Marchildon brothers, whose family lives in Denver, are first-timers at the camp and in sailing altogether.
“At first I didn’t know anything at all, and I’d get on the boat and wouldn’t know,” Sam said, “but now it’s good.”
And that’s one of the great things about the camps, Brooks said. A sailor’s experience, or lack there of, doesn’t matter at all at the start of the camp.
“We get kids with all kinds of experience levels, and it can be fun for all of them,” she said.
Nelson, though, has already had a great deal of experience. He helps crew J22 sailboats in regattas on the weekends, usually on the “Liberty” or just for anyone who’ll pick him up. He’s also training to become a junior instructor with the sailing club and hopes to eventually earn a sailing scholarship for college. Brooks calls him a natural.
Not that any of his experience puts him beyond attending the weekly camps. Because for Nelson it’s all about just being out there skimming across the water.
“It doesn’t really matter if there’s a lot of wind or how fast we’re going,” he said, while reworking the poor line I set on the sail. “I just want to be out here sailing.”
For more information on the DYC’s summer camps or lessons, visit http://www.dillonyachtclub.com or e-mail juniorsailing@dillonyacht
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