All aboard: Muskegon sailing school offers adventure, excitement

School’s almost out for summer and, while COVID-19 restrictions are lessening, there’s still a question of what your kids can do in the summer that’s fun, educational, and gets them outside. 

West Michigan’s Lakeshore towns are always prime summer destinations for those looking for sun, sand, and multiple boating landscapes. Your kids can get in on the boating experience by learning to sail.

The Muskegon Junior Sailing Program is a sailing school aimed at kids ages 6 to 18. This four-day program runs Monday through Thursday from 12:30-3:30 p.m. No experience is necessary, just an interest in learning to sail. Everything needed to be on the water is included.

“The goal of the program is to introduce the excitement of sailing to everyone,” says junior sailing program Chair Kimberly Blum. “This program offers an opportunity to those who may never have tried sailing. Sailing creates a sense of adventure that combines curiosity and boldness to be comfortable to face new challenges.”
The Muskegon Junior Sailing Program is introducing kids 6 to 18 to the excitement of sailing.
Days on the water

Kids are on the water for the majority of each day during the four-day program. While some instruction takes place in the classroom or on the beach, kids will learn how to rig their boat, tie knots, and how to sail, from jibbing and tacking to hiking and reading the wind (don’t worry, they explain what all of those terms mean during the program).

“We keep the instructor-to-student ratio small,” Blum says. “There are only approximately 12 students per program, and the Muskegon Yacht Club (MYC) Race Team kids also are out on the water with students, acting as mentors.”

Kim Frisinger has put all four of her sons in the Juniors Sailing Program, and one continues to participate.

“My husband grew up sailing at the Muskegon Yacht Club, so we started all of our boys in the program at a young age,” Frisinger says. “All of my sons have played team sports, but I was interested in them learning an individual sport. Sailing teaches them responsibility and self-reliance. All of our boys enjoyed their sailing experience. They liked that it was something different — they got out on the water and met different people. My oldest son, Frank, is still involved in sailing.”

The MYC Sailing Program is operated by the MYC and is supported by the Muskegon Junior Sailing Association, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. 
A member of the Muskegon Junior Sailing Program's Butterfly Fleet prepares to go out on the water.
Race Team

Another aspect of the school is the MYC Race Team. These experienced sailors are also members of the MYC (a junior membership costs $50 per year) who participate in regattas throughout the summer around West Michigan with other youth sailors.

“We are currently building the race team for this year,” Blum says. “Traditionally we have about 15 kids on the race team from ages 8 to 19. They compete in regattas with other race teams all around West Michigan, as well as the Ulrich Memorial ‘Above The Crowd’ Regatta that is exclusively a competition for the MYC Race Team.”

If a child enjoys the Junior Sailing Program, the next step would be to introduce them to the Race Team.

“We have the MYC Junior Race Team, and there are area high schools with sailing teams as well as college programs,” Blum says. “There’s also Wednesday night racing series, where they can crew on the big boats and help on the race committee boat. There are so many opportunities for adventure.”

The MYC Race Team has different fleet categories, including Optimist (Opti), Butterfly, and Laser. Beginner sailors start in the Opti Green Fleet. Within each of the four categories, there is a first, second, and third place. In addition to those individual awards, there are also several perpetual trophies, like The Ulrich Cup, The Schiller Family Award for Most Improved Sailor, The Opti Trophy, and the Butterfly Trophy.
Emily Nguyen, sils an Optomist sail boat with the Muskegon Junior Sailing Program.
The MYC also offers an adult program, which is a two-day sailing program held on Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m., if you want to learn alongside your child. The cost for the junior four-day program is $100 per student and the cost for the adult two-day program is $75 per person. For more information, visit www.mycsailingschool.com, email mycjuniorsailing@gmail.com or call 231-755-1414.

Beyond Muskegon

Muskegon is not the only Lakeshore community that offers youth sailing opportunities. The West Michigan Youth Sailing Association (WMYSA) lists several programs in the area. These include:

 
For more information, contact the WMYSA at https://westmichiganyouthsailing.org/index.php/wmysa-member-programs/.
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