Seneca Junior Sailing is a summer-long program designed to introduce and engage high-school aged youth with the hobby of recreational boating, specifically sailing. It provides a physical and mental outlet that can't be matched by a video game or social media. (At least we like to think so!) The objective is to provide our youth with a fun way to learn how to take on individual responsibility while working together as a coordinated team.
The primary focus of the program is an on-the-water experience beginning in June and running through August. Students learn how to pilot and manage a variety of sailboats and, by the end of the summer, compete against other sailors in races organized by the Finger Lakes Yacht Club.
Students also have the opportunity to earn their New York State Boater Safety Card and to build their boating knowledge through courses and seminars offered by the Finger Lakes Chapter. For advanced students, there are opportunities to participate in longer (i.e., overnight) trips where they learn to cruise in a self-sufficient manner.
Because everyone is so busy during the summer months, the program is structured to meet on about half of the available weekends (usually on a Saturday). This doesn't quite work to to be every other weekend because we frequently shuffle dates to accommodate local events that might make having a session difficult.
At some point in mid- to late-April, there is an organizational meeting for interested students and their parents/guardians. Specific dates for various sessions, classes and other activities will be announced at this meeting. Coaches will be available at this meeting to introduce themselves and to answer questions. Formal sign-ups for the program begin at this meeting.
The Boat Handling class begins with classroom sessions in May for those students who elect to take this course. Boats typically get launched during May and at the end of the month we will offer tours of our classroom fleet to all students, parents and guardians. On-the-water sessions begin after the Memorial Day holiday.
Crews spend the month of June getting familiar with their boat, their fellow crew and their coach. The focus is on sailing and boat handling skills.
Racing concepts, techniques and tactics are introduced during the month of July with crews practicing starts, mark roundings and (for more advanced members) sail changes. Racing rules are covered and explained. By the end of the month, Junior Sailing crews practice racing against one another.
Junior Sailors will begin competing in actual races as part of the Finger Lakes Yacht Club racing fleet. This typically involves participation in four (4) club races.
From time to time, special opportunities may arise for Junior Sailing participants that involve an extended (i.e., overnight or longer) cruise or race on Seneca Lake and nearby waters. These events are by invitation and are at the discretion of the coaching staff.
Special events that have been held in the past:
- A 2-3 day transit of the NYS Canal system to deliver boats between Seneca Lake and Lake Ontario.
- A 2-week cruise on Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands (2016 and 2018).
- A long-distance race and overnight stay on Seneca Lake.
- A 3-day cruise to Geneva, NY and back to compete in the Seneca Yacht Club Barge Race (usually held in September).