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Sailors enjoy fair weather

Little Washington Sailing School students lower one of six 14-foot-long sailboats into the Pamlico River at the beginning of a recent sailing class this summer. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

When the instructor and students are happy, that’s a good sign.
On Friday, the instructor and the students in Little Washington Sailing School’s advanced class were more than happy, thanks to an abundance of wind on the Pamlico River. Enough wind that the six 14-foot-long Vanguard sailboats used by the students were making great speed across choppy water.
Dot Moate, LWSS president, was also pleased Friday, more so about the success of the school’s summer season than Friday’s winds. Friday was the final day for the school’s advanced class and the end of its summer season of sailing classes for beginning young sailors and young sailors with some experience.
“It’s the best season we’ve had. It exceeded our expectations over last year. … We had to turn kids away the last several sessions. We didn’t have space for them on the boats,” Moate said Friday.
In the future, LWSS’s classes may no longer be just for youngsters. Class for adults who want to learn to sail may be offered.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries about that, especially this year. Parents want to learn to sail. We will be discussing that, but right now we’re waiting until we get our (nonprofit status) before we decide whether we’re going to proceed or not,” Moate said.
For Madeleine Newhouse, 16, of Greenville, this past week’s class was her first as an advanced student. She attended basics classes in two other years.
Eric Bash, 15, of Columbus, Ohio, said this summer was his second time at the sailing school, having taken the basics class previously. Bash said he learned about the sailing school from a pamphlet his father obtained. Bash has family in the area.
“It was better than the past week. The past week has been very light wind, so you can’t do much sailing, real sailing, but today (Friday) we got some good racing in,” Newhouse said after she and Bash docked their boat just before heading to lunch.
Asked what he learned about sailing this week that he did not know before taking the advanced class, Bash said, “Probably how to operate the boat during heavier winds and down winds.”
Newhouse agreed, adding, “The heavier wind today (Friday) was interesting.”
Newhouse said the best thing about the advanced class was just being able to sail each day for several hours.
“I like being out in the water and having the wind in my face … I wish I could go on for another week,” she said.
Bash said the advanced class appealed to him because it allowed him to meet new people. He was anxious to return to the water Friday afternoon.
Charles Pfeiffer, the instructor, was glad to see a day of sustained winds.
“I was completely excited about the wind. This whole week, it’s been less than, maybe, five to eight knots — not much for these kids. They like a little more of a challenge because it is an advanced class. This wind right here is blowing about 12 to 15 miles an hour, which is perfect for them,” Pfeiffer said.
Friday’s winds allowed Pfeiffer to let the students learn to deal with significant winds in a hands-on manner, his preferred way of teaching.
“Really, I’m a hands-on kind of teacher,” he said. “I’ll explain it, maybe, once or twice, then I’ll get them out there, and they’ll go do their thing. Using the different buoy placements and the racecourse, they have to learn different things. They’re sailing on beam reach for a little of it. They’re sailing upwind for a while. Then they’re running down wind,” Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer did not intend to waste Friday’s winds. Once lunch was over, he had a plan for the rest of Friday afternoon.
“I’m going to take as much advantage of this wind as I can. “I’m going to get them out sailing.”
And that’s exactly what the students wanted from this week’s advanced class.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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