One Family's Experience

Sailing Shaping Childhood
by Betsy Vallejo
April 2015

Our family became involved with the Lake Washington Sailing Club in July 2012 when our 11-year-old son Lucas Vallejo attended George Biery’s Junior Sailing Camp. Little did we know how much LWSC and sailing would shape our son’s childhood and influence our family’s activities!

Lucas learned about the program through his school friends.  His Father, Ric, had done a little windsurfing, but our family were not sailors.  Lucas sailed in the little Sabot sailboats provided at the club and learned quickly. He enjoyed it so much we started talking about buying him his own boat. That summer Ric bought a used El Toro and fixed it up: Lucas named it Pork Chop.

After Junior Sailing Camp over the summer, we were encouraged to continue Lucas sailing on Friday nights at the LWSC Junior Stampede.  Our family would come out and have a light supper, enjoy the pleasant evening visiting other parents, and watch the kids sail across the pink water as the sun slowly lowered into the horizon.

And we found that sailing is not just a summer activity.  On New Year’s Day 2013 Lucas and his Dad sailed the El Toro out for a bit in the brisk breeze. It was a fitting way to start the New Year in anticipation of more sailing adventures ahead.

With membership in the LWSC comes responsibility to participate in activities. Tom Locker, the LWSC High School coach, sailed with Lucas in an FJ during the One Design Race in April 2013: Lucas had just turned 12. He got to experience a bigger race with a variety of boats. That summer 2013, Lucas would again participate in the Junior Sailing Camp using his El Toro. It was also the first summer he went to the Stockton Sailing Camp, a one week camp where youth from Northern California bring their own boat to participate in a hands-on learning experience for rules of the water, knots, safety, and sailing instruction. Lucas received a Sportsmanship Award at the end of week, recognizing his ability to help other sailors and be a good team player.

Some of the LWSC HS Team
I believe the lessons he learned at George’s Junior Sailing Camp helped influence this behavior. September 2013 again brought LWSC Junior Stampede races where Lucas won first place in the series and we were very proud. In November 2013 he participated in the Turkey Shoot – a surprise we were to learn that the award was either a Rock Cornish game hen, or the first place winner getting a turkey! I found it amazing that we could still have a beautiful day to sail even in November.

Lucas’ maturity with his sailing abilities allowed him the opportunity to crew on a FJ in 2013 with the LWSC High School Sailing Team led by Tom Locker. As an 8th grader, he could participate in high school regattas held in Northern California.  This was an exciting time to meet other youth participating in competition and brought sailing to a new level of interest for our family. The year 2013 also brought a new addition to our family: a Lido. We were warmly invited to participate in Lido sailing events with other Lido owners. 2013 was another great year for sailing and meeting new friends.
Lucas & Sam at SFYC

For the LWSC Junior Sailing Camp in 2014, at the age of 13, Lucas assisted as an instructor, rather than a participant. Coach George recognized Lucas’ ability to lead the younger children and play a more active role in teaching. This was enjoyable for Lucas too as he could share his knowledge and love for sailing.

LWSC HS Regatta
Stockton Sailing Camp in 2014 was another fun activity as he returned to see friends made last year and enjoy the camaraderie. He continued to enter fun sail competitions in 2014: Junior Stampede (2nd Place), and the Turkey Shoot (friend Julian Bilbao took the turkey). Lucas also continued to participate in the High School regattas. In 2014 I took a women’s sailing lesson on the Sunfish offered by the LWSC to become more confident on the water. As a family we took the Lido out several times, and Lucas helped us sail and coached us on how to best handle the boat during varying conditions. We trust his judgement and skills. It’s been such a pleasure to watch him grow and become a confident sailor.

Our 2015 sailing year began with LWSC hosting the West Sac Port Regatta, the first of its kind held at LWSC for a high school sailing competition. Many hands, many helpers, the LWSC provided a great venue for a well-attended regatta. We hope to hold more events like this for our youth in the years ahead. The NorCal High School Championship Regatta concluded at the San Francisco Yacht Club in March 2015. Lucas crewed with Sam Ruhe as skipper.

As Lucas sailed out of the yacht club into the San Francisco Bay with the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop to the clear but breezy day, I felt as if Lucas had reached a significant milestone as a sailor. Watching him grow from a 11-year-old sailing a Sabot on a placid summer day on Lake Washington, to crewing on a FJ at age 14 far from shore on the San Francisco Bay, filled me with a sense of awe and gratitude. In the years ahead there will be more sailing adventures and races for Lucas. LWSC and the knowledgeable and friendly people who make the club who it is, helped lay the foundation for him to grow into a confident young man and sailor.

Special thanks to George Biery and Tom Locker for running the youth programs at LWSC, and the club officers and volunteers who help make the LWSC a special place to sail.

For information about LWSC's 2015 Youth Programs Click HERE:
NorCal HS Sailing Championship 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment