Now that the 2015 DRYC Summer Sailing Program has ended, the gear packed neatly away and the pool empty, silence has replaced the incessant laughter that has filled our corner of the yacht club for the past eight weeks. For many, this silence comes with a sigh of relief. Everyone had their share of fun throughout the program, whether it was the beginner Sabot sailors learning to sail upwind for the first time, or the Opti kids setting up for their first start, or even our racers, who represented themselves and the club all over the country, the spirit of camaraderie that accompanies the sport of sailing was felt by all who entered the club this summer.
This being my first year as Head Coach, I cannot be prouder of the staff, students, and parents that have helped build another layer of our program. Our beginner Sabot sailors were quick to learn and keen to sail further and further away from the club each day. We also had the largest Optimist Dinghy enrollment the program has ever seen, with our Opti racers competing throughout the region. These children are the future of the program and we can’t put enough effort into their growth as sailors and as people. For the older racers, Del Rey Yacht Club sailors found the podium in four national championships this summer, winning two. DRYC also returned to the Governor’s Cup Match Racing Regatta for the first time in over ten years, placing fourth overall in a highly competitive international fleet. Those who frequent the club in the summertime can see how much these kids practice and how hard they’ve worked to get to where they are. Though it is easy to see the external workings of the summer program by simply standing on the dock and looking out at the kids in their boats, it is more difficult to see the internal mechanisms that truly make our program successful.
When I look at all the kids who come up through our program, from the eight year olds trying to drown each other in the pool, to the budding teenagers who are unsure who to sit with at lunch, all the way to the kids who will be heading off to college this fall, the intergenerational focus of our program becomes clear. The young learn from the old, whether it’s a Sabot student being coached by an Optimist racer, or an FJ kid being taught by a coach who competes collegiately, the program feeds off itself, its own self-sustaining organism. After all, learning to sail builds skills and confidence that children carry with them into their later years. Internalizing these skills takes a massive amount of support from parents, coaches, and most of all, teammates.
Too often, the communal aspect of a junior sailing team gets washed out by individual accomplishments. One of the pleasures of being a coach is getting the kids to work together as a single unit. Only then will achievements on the water be fully realized. This is the true way to measure the success of a junior program, not by numbers on a score sheet or trophies on a shelf. Though the Del Rey Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program will always provide young sailors the skills to race well, we take more pride in crafting great friendships that will last longer than any momentary sense of individual accomplishment. In the end, winning a first place trophy doesn’t mean much if your friends aren’t there to share the moment with you. Trophies themselves mean nothing. They collect dust. Memories, however, last a lifetime.
Here’s to a lifetime of sailing with great friends. Here’s to a lifetime of great memories. See you next summer.