Little Washington Sailing School kicks off summer season next week

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Pamlico River will soon be dotted with little white sails affixed to tall masts, all stepped on gleaming fiberglass hulls gliding through the water. Steering these vessels will be children from Washington and beyond, each learning a skill to last a lifetime.

This is the mission of the Little Washington Sailing School, and starting next week, the nonprofit will kick off its 11th season of teaching young people to sail.

“We’re running hard and getting the sailing school ready to roll,” said LWSS Director Kevin Clancy.

With a fleet of 14 sailboats, a mix of seven-foot Optimist prams and 14-foot Vanguard 420s, the sailing school offers lessons for novices and experienced sailors alike, all under the tutelage of U.S. Sailing Association certified instructors.

“This year, all of our instructors are graduates from our program,” Clancy said. “They have enjoyed sailing enough to become certified and come back to give it back to the next generation of young people that are interested in sailing.”

Basic sailing courses run Tuesdays through Saturdays through Aug. 9, and the final week of the summer season, Aug. 12-17, marks the LWSS Advanced Sailing STEM Course. Designed for students who have already completed the introductory course, this course integrates math and science, culminating in an annual regatta.

Little Washington Sailing School will also continue its partnership with Inner Banks STEM Center, formerly the Beaufort County Police Activities League. Dovetailing with IBX STEM lessons on boating and aviation, the partnership offers local students a chance to experience the Pamlico River from a perspective they may have never seen before.

This summer, the program is also bolstered by a $32,000 grant from Duke Energy, which allowed the school to purchase a new safety boat, make repairs to its dock on the waterfront and provide training for its instructors.

“Our whole team will be certified U.S. Sailing instructors,” Clancy said. “We’re rolling.”

For the more than 620 students who have taken part in the program in the last decade, the school has not only imparted sailing skills. It’s also promoted environmental awareness and left a generation of students with a sense of confidence on the water. It’s also given many young people a love of sailing.

“It’s so much more than how to drive a boat from A to B,” Clancy said. “There’s teamwork, safety, situational awareness, problem solving on the water — it’s just a really great thing to learn.”

Spaces are still available for would-be skippers in sessions throughout the summer. For more information on the Little Washington Sailing School, or to register, visit