Sail into a New Sport – Literally

May 3, 2018

Submitted by Jessica Campbell

For years, instructors of the Michigan City Yacht Club in Washington Park, Michigan City were asked, “Do you offer adult lessons?” “Do you know about racing?” “How can we learn more?”

“There was a need,” Nicole Coleman said. Coleman, an avid sailor since high school and Joel Florek, also a pro in the sport, decided to add on to the decades old yacht club by offering a few new things for their program. This summer will be the first season for adult lessons at the MCYC Sailing School. With Florek as director and Coleman, marketing chair, the two have now added a racing a program, an ability to grow up with the sport, and a way to enjoy the beautiful Lake Michigan through another view.

Both have been around the U.S, sailing throughout the lakes and oceans – an experience they decided to bring to those of Northwest Indiana.

The MCYC was established in 1933, and a program for kids to learn how to sail has been drawing in people for years.

Kids eight years and older are invited to enroll in a week-long day camp, which was switched from a three-week camp to help parents fit in all their summer plans. Once a camper gets the knack for the sport, he or she can enter boat racing.

The racing program for adults, Coleman explained, will be one day a week in the evening. The participants will learn how to race the boat, as well as learn how to abide by all U.S. and Olympic rules, just like the pros.

“Learning those rules, then also boat handling skills in a smaller boat, helps prepare people for bigger boat sailing and also more competitive sailing,” she said. “They will learn start sequences and different tactics.

The MCYC sailing program is hands-on from the moment you step off of land and back onto it.

The boats they lend out to sailors are all great starting vessels. An Optimist, small and sturdy, is used around the world in competitive fleets. They are just 120 pounds, making them perfect for the little ones.

“They are great for kids,” Coleman said. “That’s why kids as young as age seven can start, depending on the kid’s introduction ability.”

The program also has several Club 420s, which are a two-person boat. Most high school sailing teams use these boats for their practices and races.

The club also has Laser Bugs, a single person boat, and they also recently purchased several Catalina 14.2s. The adult sailors will use these during the day camps.

“You can fit six people on the boat, so it is a great boat to learn basic skills on,” Coleman said of the Catalinas.

With each boat comes a certified and experienced instructor. There will be about five instructors and five CITS (Counselors in Training), making the entire program a five to one student to instructor ratio.

Florek and Coleman, and all of the upcoming instructors, have grown up on the water, and with this club and by offering even more wonderful opportunities, they want more and more kids to have that chance too.

According to Coleman, Northwest Indiana does not have many sailing clubs, or any clubs at the local high schools. They hope, after this summer that may change.

A high school only needs a minimum of four students to establish a club. Once done, the MCYC will be willing to provide the boats and all else needed to grow the club, Coleman said.

Camp starts June 11th and will last one week. Prices can be found on the website, along with the details of times, adult lessons, and racing events.

As of now, camp slots have been filling up fast!  The racing program is already half-filled, and they have received many adult lessons sign-ups. If you decide to tackle a new wave and sign up, you will not only learn how to maneuver a boat for a new sport, but also meet a lot of new kids and people.

“It will be very exciting nice way to kick off the summer,” Coleman said.

Once you sign up, all you need is a life jacket. Get ready for thrills, and hopefully not too many water spills.

For more information, contact Coleman and Florek through the website.

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