Storm Trysail Foundation's Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars Looking to Expand Programs Across the Country
Local involvement proves an important component in the Storm Trysail Foundation's (STF) popular one-day Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars, and to that end the non-profit organization is looking to expand its impact nationally by implementing more seminars at key sailing venues across the country. The program, which was established 15 years ago, currently hosts seminars in Newport, R.I., Larchmont, N.Y., Annapolis, Md. and Perth Amboy, N.J., with approximately 300 junior sailors - ranging between the ages of 12 and 20 - attending each year. Throughout the day, participants are taught the importance of safety when sailing on big boats through classroom sessions, dockside demonstrations and on-the-water experience. The seminars are sponsored by the Jamie Boeckel Memorial Fund for Safety at Sea, which donates life jackets to the programs. (The fund was established in 2002 to preserve the memory of Jamie Boeckel, who died in an accident while performing bowman duties aboard Blue Yankee in the 2002 Block Island Race.)
"Local leadership is needed to stir the pot and recruit kids in any given area," said Rich du Moulin, who heads up the STF's Junior Safety-at-Sea effort and is also chair of the Larchmont seminar. "Currently, we have about 15 people in different parts of the country with serious interest; if we can double from four events to eight, we'll be very happy."
The Storm Trysail Foundation is working closely with US SAILING to create guidelines that will assist volunteers looking to host a Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminar. "We want to make this program accessible and easy for people who have never done this before," said du Moulin. "If there is a strong interest in a given place, we can get some Storm Trysail Club members to help set up the lesson plan, work with them as mentors and possibly help with seed funding, if needed."
2011 Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars
The Larchmont Seminar (Larchmont, N.Y.) was hosted by Larchmont Yacht Club on Friday, July 22, and is a requirement for participation in the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound's big boat events, including Stamford Yacht Club's Dorade Series and Beach Point Yacht Club's Junior Overnight Race. "Throughout the fifteen years of running the seminar we have probably hosted about 4,000 kids including their junior sailing instructors," said du Moulin, who added that this year's seminar had 22 boats donated by locals for the 220 junior sailors that attended. "We've never had a problem getting people involved, because big boat sailing is a big deal on Long Island Sound." This year, Storm Trysail Club members and volunteers added to the schedule a fire safety component; the local fire department came by and taught the students how to put out a boat fire using various types of extinguishers. "It's all about teaching kids in a way they learn best --hands-on--and giving them the tools to help them sail safer," said du Moulin.
Also taking a swipe at fire safety was the Raritan Seminar (Perth Amboy, N.J.) out of Raritan Yacht Club (RYC) on Friday, July 29. The seminar hosted 17 participants representing four New Jersey Yacht Clubs and the students were taught by local firefighters how to not only disable common boat fires but also put out a diesel fire themselves. The group also participated in dockside demonstrations where they learned how to use safety equipment such as jacklines, throw-ropes and how to deploy a Man Overboard Module. "Most of the juniors attending this year's program had little or no big boat experience," said Kelly Robinson, who chaired the event with the help of Storm Trysail Club members Rich du Moulin and Bob Behringer. "By the end of the day, they were setting, dousing, gybing, and stopping the boat under spinnaker with proficiency." Robinson added that nearly half of the participants had attended last year's event, and the program plans to expand participation in future years by presenting trophies for junior participation in the RYC's Fall Lighthouse Race (25 nautical miles) in October.
The Newport Seminar (Newport, R.I.), held Wednesday, August 17, hosted 28 participants, including a handful of junior sailors participating in the annual Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR), which hosts a Youth Challenge every year and started two days later. "We have such a tight sailing community here and have never had a problem borrowing boats, getting donations and with the great pool of professional sailors in the Newport area, there are always volunteers to help out," said Lat Spinney, who co-chaired the event with Dan Faria. "Most of the kids that attend our seminar sail alone on small boats, so the teamwork aspect of communicating and working together is important if they want to go forward with big boat sailing."
The participants toured the 80-foot maxi Falcon 2000; took part in dockside demonstrations, including a life raft and flare demonstration by Life Raft and Survival Equipment of Tiverton, R.I.; had a visit from the U.S. Coast Guard Castle Hill Station; and listened to many experienced speakers talk about offshore sailing, including US SAILING's President Jack Gearhart. By the afternoon, each student was out on the water sailing one of the six boats that had been donated for the day and practicing man overboard drills. "It is a local effort, and having all the volunteers involved keeps the event organized and fun," said Spinney. "There isn't a minute that the kids aren't doing something, and it shows in their faces at the end of the day."
The 28 junior sailors that attended the Annapolis Seminar (Annapolis, Md.) at Annapolis Yacht Club were provided with top coaching, and crew for each of the five boats borrowed for the day consisted of five to eight kids and two local Storm Trysail Club members. "Instruction on the boat was very up-close-and-personal," said Event Chair Jeff Goldring. "The day went swimmingly. The weather was stellar and what gelled was when we got the kids out sailing. With permission from the U.S. Coast Guard, I taught the kids how to shoot off a flare, and after they watched how it was done, I brought my expired handheld flares and let everyone shoot one off. It was one of those things that they would never have the opportunity to do in another situation." The afternoon concluded with a wrap-up pizza party where everyone got together to watch video from the day and ask any remaining questions. "The kids were abuzz and pumped and there was a good bit of positive feedback from parents."
About the Storm Trysail Foundation
The Storm Trysail Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization dedicated to supporting the education of young sailors, junior safety at sea, and intercollegiate big boat racing. The purpose of the Storm Trysail Foundation is to effect, promote and enhance the education of young sailors in safety at sea, safe boat handling in all conditions, and safe blue water racing and passage making, through the hosting of seminars, regattas, and other on-the-water training, and through the making of grants to other institutions to foster similar training.
For more information or to get involved with the Storm Trysail Foundation's Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars, contact the Storm Trysail Club, 914-834-8857, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.stormtrysailfoundation.org.
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