NEWPORT – The Yaquina Bay Yacht Club (YBYC) will be offering sailing courses for adult beginners starting in August.
The courses are open to anyone interested in sailing. No experience is required, although participants should be somewhat nimble and comfortable in the water.
“We’re just trying to get things back on track after the last year and a half,” said Greg Krutzikowsky, the yacht club’s race and crew chairman. “We haven’t held classes in a while, and it was about time we held this class.”
While there are opportunities for children to learn to sail through the Oregon Boating Foundation, there have not been many opportunities for adults to learn to sail in recent years.
Laurie Weitkamp, one of four US-certified sailing instructors for the class, said these sailing courses are a great opportunity for people to learn lifelong skills.
“Sailing is the ultimate green sport,” said Weitkamp. “It’s great practice, and it’s just so much fun.”
Krutzikowsky agreed that sailing is a fun hobby that people of all ages can enjoy. “And they can sail all their lives,” he added.
Tuition includes lessons on sailing theory, rules of the road, boat safety, navigation aids, and tides and currents. In addition, the students gain practical experience on the water.
“The best way to learn sailing is to do it,” Krutzikowsky said. “Learning the concepts and theories is great, but people learn more through practice.”
YBYC owns eight boats, and students learn on Club 420 boats. Club 420 boats are an internationally recognized class of boats, also known as tenders. They are a small two-person boat commonly used for training.
“A lot of people use the 420 class boats in races and regattas,” said Terry Lettenmaier, Weitkamp’s certified instructor and husband. “The advantage of using smaller boats is that they are generally easier to learn and to sail. The principles are the same for sailing small boats and large boats. You have to react quickly and directly.”
Weitkamp said the small boats are also more exciting. “Everybody has a job on bigger sailboats. But on the small boat you do everything. You can either take all the credit…or take all the blame,” she said.
Also adding to the excitement is the ability to go fast in strong winds. “Small boats can break out of the water and slide to the surface,” says Lettenmaier. “They can walk very, very fast.”
Wind is obviously a big factor in boat performance. “Wind is the motor,” explains Weitkamp. “Will it be an original Honda Civic or a Maserati? It all depends on how the wind blows.” Light winds can offer a peaceful, scenic outing – a different yet enjoyable experience.
An important lesson in class will be how to deal with a capsized boat. The water in Yaquina Bay is quite cold and learning how to turn a sailboat and get out of the water is a crucial skill for anyone.
The six-day course starts on August 12th and runs until August 26th. The course fee is $400 for non-members or $200 for members – 50 percent of the fee may be charged for a new YBYC membership for non-members. Registration is due by July 31st.
Classes are held in the YBYC clubhouse on Bay Boulevard and on Club 420 boats in the marina at Port Dock 7. Participants should bring their own wetsuits, footwear, gloves and life jacket. Sailors in training should also bring a packed lunch and a change of clothes.
The yacht club is always looking for new members, boat ownership is not required. Membership benefits include reciprocal rights at many yacht clubs around the world, discounts on use of the clubhouse, free entry to weekday sailboat races, invitation to all club social activities and volunteer opportunities, and use of select sailboats and motorboats of the club. Members also receive a monthly newsletter about club events.
Weitkamp said don’t let the name “yacht club” intimidate you.
“It’s not like anyone here is a millionaire,” she explained. “It’s a relatively cheap sport to get into. Old inflatable boats are a dime a dozen, but the hobby can last a lifetime.”
YBYC membership is $290 per year for everyone in your household or $240 for an individual membership, both subject to a one-time $100 initiation fee. There are also memberships for students, active military and crew members.