Back in the dark ages we learned how to sail in a 13 1/2 for sailboat called a Blue Jay.
You might be more familiar with its big brother, the Lightning. At 19 feet and a foot wider, the Lightning was not only a racer, but also a family boat. Our Lightning was Adios, #4695.
The Blue Jay was the preferred club boat, the training boat, all wood and just the right speed for 7 to 10 year olds. I have a soft spot for these now old-fashioned boats. They required loving care over the winter, and, with a mainsail, jib and spinnaker, it was a lot of sails to drag around!
But the training was invaluable - there's something to be said for learning to sail and race with 3 eight year olds in a small space. They're still around - some used as frostbiters and other for families who really enjoy the specialness of these little gems.
Now most clubs train in the Optimist - affectionately know as an Opti.
I freely admit that I don't "get" these snub-nosed little dinghies, but if it gets someone sailing, that's what matters.
But i want to talk about the NEXT step:
What is the transition boat? What happens next? How do you keep these kids excited about sailing and racing? Oh - just you wait...
Check out the video:
Do you know about these boats??? I saw them first in this video and I was blown away. Of course I wanted one but I'm too big (on ALL levels). I've watched this video about 25 times.
There were a lot of 'em...sailing fast, standing up and surfing around the mark - WHAAAT? No worries about capsizing (in a Blue Jay it was complicated), hose 'em off when you're done - throw them on a hand dolly and you're off.
I'm a staunch advocate for youth sailing. Self-esteem, respect, good conduct - those qualities stay with you your whole life. I do wonder about sailing so much alone. How do you learn to be a crew? or sail with a crew? There are lessons to be learned there as well. And yes - these boats are made by the pen people, BIC. you can check out other watercraft at www.bicsport.com
So what did you learn to sail in? Let me know and tell me what you think of that video!