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A sailing tradition

Youth sailing school has kids out on the water

by Bob Martin
Sports Reporter - Gilford Steamer, WInnisquam Echo, Meredith News

The Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association has classes underway, with youth campers taking advantage of the nice weather on the water. Bob Martin. (click for larger version)
July 03, 2017
GILFORD — Since 1988 the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association has operated a youth sailing school, as well as promoting organized sailboat racing and cruising around Lake Winnipesaukee. This tradition continues this summer, with Executive Director Amy Tripp saying that children of all ages have been taking advantage of time on the water already.

The association is not only focused on sailing, but also building character for children 7 to 16 through learning to "appreciate, harness and respect" wind and water, according to the web site. This involves students with all interests and abilities, as well as means as financial aid is offered. Since the association's inception, LWSA has taught more than 2,500 sailors.

"Our biggest week is 40 campers, but we have seven instructors, six junior instructors and myself," said Tripp.

Tripp said the sailors are a combination of local children and those who are up vacationing during the summer. She even said last year a boy from Germany was in the camp.

The association has a 37-boat fleet that includes Optimist sailing dinghies, Vanguard 420s, 23-foot Sonar keelboats and 10 Open Bic sailing dinghies.

"The really great part of the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association is exposing young people to sailing who have never done it before, and/or came last year and are moving up in the levels," said Tripp.

Tripp said an example is an eight-year-old boy who lives on the water and has a small sailing boat. He went for one session and recently was able to go out on his own to sail. She said she loves hearing these success stories.

New this year is an advanced curriculum, as the association has added an Advanced Seamanship class focused on challenging experienced sailors.

There has also been an expanded scheduled, as adult lessons and private began on May 22 this year. The group adult lessons are for beginner and intermediate level sailors. Many of the participants are new boat owners of small sailboats, while others want to fine tune their racing skills. The private sessions are for those who want to just go out and sail without any instruction.

"There are lots of big things going on this summer," said Tripp. "The biggest thing is that we have an eight-week youth camp session. Every week there is a younger session that starts and then the older children mainly go for two weeks."

Classes start at 9 a.m. and the day begins with a white board session, she said, where children are in a classroom talking about things like knot tying, wind direction and more. The campers get taught through the week how to rig out their own boats and hit the water. As of the campers' second week, there were some who were already sailing individually.

Another aspect of the association is a race club that is on Tuesdays and Thursdays taught by head instructor Ben Crosby. Tripp said he is a wealth of knowledge for campers, and added that all instructors have U.S. Sailing Level 1 certification and can teach to high levels.

Each year the association puts on the Winnipesaukee Annual Regatta, where youth sailors and sailing organizations from New England, New York and beyond are participating. This year the event is scheduled for July 20 and is run out of the Winnipesaukee Yacht Club.

The camp is run out of Smith Cove and is located at 25 Davis Road. It is an ideal spot for the sailors to launch from. Tripp said one of the best days comes on Fun Fridays where they sail out to an island, swim and eat lunch.

"That's really fun for them to use the skills they learned all week," said Tripp.

Tripp is in her second year as the executive director and she said one of her goals is to create more community camping sessions where they are always focused on safety, fun and learning.

"You remember when you were eight or nine learning to sail, helping each other to become better sailors and better people," said Tripp. "This is all primarily about getting out on the water sailing, working on skills and drills, but most of all having fun."

For more information log onto www.lwsa.org.

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