Editor’s note: The subject of the ‘On Watch’ article in our March issue, Kate Wilson was recently honored by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association for (among other achievements) her efforts to help revitalize the junior sailing program at Newport Yacht Club in Newport, RI.
I read with great interest in the March issue of WindCheck about you being honored by RIMTA as the Rhode Island Boater of the Year – congratulations!
I completely agree with you that junior sailing needs to be more fun and offer this short story in support. When my son was 9 years old, we sent him to a great local summer sailing camp at a local yacht club. He repeated the camp a year later, but for the third summer I asked him if he would like to go again and he said no. I asked why and he said, “Because all they want to do is race and make you try to beat the pants off somebody. I like to sail, Dad, but it’s not fun when all you do is race.” For him, there was no fun, no “Marine Adventure Camp,” and it was all about competition…trying to be better than the next kid. I was greatly saddened, but understood. I love sailing too and learned it as a young teen – but not in a competitive sailing camp. He was burnt out at the tender young age of 12.
Why does everyone think that junior sailing has to be all about racing? I was disappointed that there were no options near us for Aiden to have simple, fun sailing. Clearly he’s not a competitive type, but in his two summers at that sailing camp he learned everything there is to handle a boat. I was proud the day he took me out in a 420 and started hiking out without fear. He looked natural. He can helm our small sailboat easily, which I am proud of. But there’s no place for him in junior sailing, unless we lived near your Marine Adventure Camp.
Keep up what you are doing. This industry needs to grow its next crop of sailors, but understand it’s not all about racing. As the WindCheck story says, if we are to “create lifelong sailors” and have a thriving sailing industry we must understand that not everyone wants to be a sailing athlete. I applaud your efforts and again congratulate you.
You have a friend at Boat Owners Association of The United States, and don’t ever hesitate to contact me if I can help you.
D. Scott Croft
Vice President Public Affairs, BoatU.S.
Kate Wilson replies:
Thank you so much for your kind words. As an avid racer and coach myself, I have seen too many kids burn out and fall out of love with the sport, so I’m just doing my part to counteract this trend. However, what I learned last year at the US Sailing Leadership Forum is that there are many Adventure Sailing programs but we just aren’t talking about them because they don’t get the recognition the racing programs get because they don’t travel to regattas. It’s almost like that old saying, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?” If there are these great programs, and no one hears about them outside a yacht club because they don’t do regattas, do they still get the credit?
So, thank you to WindCheck for sharing stories like ours. Great to “meet” you. If you are ever in Newport, please let me know.