Novice sailors learning their lines|Sailing club begins its second session of beginners’ classes

Published 4:38 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Contributing Editor

Although their reasons for taking a sailing class for beginners were varied, the four teenage girls taking the afternoon class for the next two weeks agreed on one thing Monday: The Pamlico River provided relief from the heat.
The four girls taking part in the Little Washington Sailing Club’s second round of classes for beginning sailors were required to pass a swim test before continuing with the class. They passed with ease, staying in the cooling water for as long as possible.
The first day of class was centered around getting to know one another, taking the swim test and some classroom instruction. Today, they will go out in the 14-foot sailing dinghies to begin learning sailing fundamentals.
Brittany Levine, 15, said she’s taking the class “so I can learn how to sail with my grandpa.”
Elaine Tyrrell, 15, said she signed up “to learn to sail so I can sail with my friend and her family.”
“Because I like the water,” said Katie Koegel, 14, when asked why she’s taking the class.
“I want to learn how to sail better,” said Jamie Rice, 13, about her decision to join the class.
Instructor Eve Robitaille hopes the remaining classes will attract more students.
“We don’t have a lot of people signed up right now,” she said. “Right now, it’s just beginner classes.”
During the first two-week round of classes, Robitaille had six boys in the morning class and two boys in the afternoon class. For this round of classes, she’s got four boys in the morning and four girls in the afternoon.
“It went great. I think a lot of the kids had fun,” Robitaille said about the first two-week session of classes.
Next summer, the club would like to offer intermediate and advanced classes, she said.
Helping Robitaille on Monday were club volunteers Jim and Kay Ellis. Jim Ellis, who is familiar with sailing larger vessels, said he hopes the classes will teach him how to sail small sailboats.
Kay Ellis believes the club’s decision to hire Robitaille to run its summer sailing program is a good one.
“She is so good with the girls,” Ellis said as she observed Robitaille working with the students.
“I grew up with it,” Robitaille said of her experience with sailing. “I sailed for my high school because it had a sailing team.”
The sailing club, under the auspices of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, designed the sailing program’s curriculum to introduce participants to seamanship and sailing fundamentals espoused by the U.S. Sailing Association.