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Better weather, more programs for Winni Sailing Association

Young sailors stay cool in their shades on a hot summer day last week. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010
Rainy, cool weather may have marked June and July of last summer, but it's been smooth sailing for the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association so far this season.

Partly due to weather and partly due to increased class capacities, the LWSA sailing student enrollment numbers have increased about 30 percent compared to last year.

The program has been extended to not only 8 to 16 year olds, but to adults and to 6 and 7 year-old students, dubbed the "mighty minis." There are about 12 youngsters and about 10 adults currently enrolled in the new classes.

About 130 students were enrolled in the program last year, compared to 140 enrolled students before classes started this year, and an estimated overall 160 students expected by the end of the summer.

Sailing instructor Anthony Sperazzo also attributed much of this year's success to a new crew of U.S. sailing certifies instructors, who have come together for their second sailing year as one unit.

"It has a lot to do with the new staff. They are full of energy, and they have neat new ideas," said Sperazzo. "So far, we are thrilled with the turnout."

Sperazzo said out of state enrollment also seems to be up, thanks to word of mouth.

"Last year we started to get a lot of enrollments from other states. People have a good time and go back and tell their families. We have a family coming from Germany and a couple families from overseas," said Sperazzo.

This year kids from New Hampshire, New York, and Seattle will also fill up the seats of these sailboats.

He said that parents watched their kids have so much fun last year that many of them decided to join the new adult classes.

Older kids and adults go out on larger sailboats from the start on larger bodies of water, while the younger kids sail on smaller and progressive "opti" boats, which still pick up a good amount of speed in the wind.

In the early weeks of class, kids are coloring the parts of a boat on a large diagram, and older kids and adults read through fact sheets. Applying the sailing basics out on the water, however, is the main focus of the program.

"We wanted to get younger kids out on the water sooner, so that they can learn to sail and feel comfortable earlier on," said Sperazzo.

Second year instructor Carson Quigley started off as a student and junior instructor in prior years, and said she and her crew get satisfaction out of seeing young children sail on their own.

"It's an independent thing; they don't need mom or dad to steer the boat or help them. They learn the basics. We give them the tools and they do it themselves," said Quigley. "We teach them the rules of the road. There are still rules in the water, where they learn to be safe and responsible for their own boats."

During sailing class, students learn to rig a boat, how to care for a boat properly, put away sails, how to steer or sail in heavy winds, and develop a sense of direction.

"It's a lifetime activity. Anyone can learn to sail," said Sperazzo. "The kids are taking control and it helps build up their self esteem."

Eight-year-old Will Gagnon from Rochester said he enjoyed rigging up the boat because it reminded him of putting a jigsaw puzzle back together. His fellow sailing friend Steven Waycott said he hasn't gravitated toward a lot of sports or recreational programs until now, and feels he has found his niche out on the water every day.

The mighty minis will set sail for half days, while the 8-10 year-olds will sail for one week, and the 11-16 year-olds and above will participate in a two-week long program.

Classes are closed out for the end of July, although the last few weeks of summer are still open for session and new students.

Schedules, prices and more details are available on LWSA.org.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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