Awarded for Excellence in Junior Sailing >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The Pacific Coast Yachting Association was founded in 1923 to promote yachting on the Pacific Coast of North America and Hawaii, and to facilitate this mission, the Garrett Horder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually for excellence in yachting. junior nautical education.
While it’s popular to measure junior programs by regatta results, fun and retention proved to be the difference in 2022 when the Horder went to Silvergate Yacht Club (SYC) in San Diego, CA.
Existing in the shadow of the big and important clubs in its port, SYC’s non-racing junior program has stood out in part because it teaches the pure love of sailing instead of competition.
“Making sailors for life is our priority, and we don’t take it lightly,” said program director Kent Prater. “We believe that the pressure to always compete takes too many kids away from a sport they could play for a lifetime.”
In his submission to the PCYA, while respecting racing programs that also produce sailors for life, Prater described his system as complementary, attracting some children who experiment with Silvergate’s offerings as a safety valve from the competition’s high concentration. .
“We see success in the number of our new kids coming back for additional weeks of sailing,” Prater said. “There’s also the child who gets older and comes back during the college years to join our instructional staff.”
The practical limits of the club site keep the number of students at approximately 14 per program week. The sailors are aged 8 to 18, with never more than four students per instructor. This scale helps divide groups, whether separated by age or mixed by ability or affiliation.
“We had some great nominations for the Garrett Horder Award, an amazing fact given the constraints of COVID,” noted PCYA Commodore Bobbi Campbell. “But one program rose above the others for inclusion and fun. Director Kent Prater knows how to share the big secret, that there’s nothing more interesting to do than having fun in boats, just having fun.
Silvergate has a small keelboat for venturing around San Diego Bay, but most instruction, including the weekly beach picnic and stand-up paddleboard show, takes place close to base in a variety of dinghies including RS Fevas, Sabots and O’pen Skiffs.
Prater notes how ideal O’pen Skiffs are for non-regattas in which children develop boat-handling skills when they think they’re just having fun capsizing at the whistle or aiming for the biggest splash.
“We do things a little differently and work hard to create a program where kids from all backgrounds are excited to learn in a safe, non-competitive environment,” Prater said. “This award is wonderful validation of the support we receive from our club members and, of course, the efforts of our volunteers who find their hours here rewarding and downright joyful.”