The Top Line is Fair sailing
The Bottom Line is Sportsmanship
Such is the youth sailing program at the Miami Yacht Club. Every Saturday for 35 years, the Miami Yacht Club has held sailing classes in Clearwater Optimist Prams. The program is a two-part program, one for beginners and one for advanced skippers who like to race. The beginner's class is open to all 8 to 15 year olds who would like to learn to sail. The basic sailing instructor, Mr. Ray Williams, has not missed a class (hurricanes excepted) in over twenty-three years.
Using twenty club-owned prams, the five month classes begin the last Saturday in January and July. While the emphasis is on basic sailing and boat handling, some racing is introduced in an informal way. The graduation ceremony is always preceded by the class's sailing to Monument Island, a three-mile round trip, for a cookout.
The advanced class, taught by Lew Twitchell and Dr. Gid Stocks, concentrates on on racing. Skippers sail their own boats and compete for club standing, as well as participating in regattas sponsored by other clubs. Miami YC sponsors two youth regattas a year with a usual turnout of about eighty sailors, although a recent regatta registered 103 skippers in Prams, International Optimist Dinghy's and Lasers!
When Fred Bremen, Jr., recently enrolled his daughter, Mandy, a unique cycle was completed. Mandy's grandfather, Fred, Sr., was an instructor in the same program some twenty-five years ago.
As Lew Twitchell prints on every set of racing instructions, “The top line is fair sailing – the bottom line is sportsmanship.”
The secret to a successful youth sailing program is the dedication of those who love to pass on the joy of sailing.
Sailor's Gazette, Tampa, FL, April, 1985