Great Outdoors: North Coast Community Sailing

Sailing Program Introduces Kids to Life-Long Hobby

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A program in Washburn is getting kids off the couch and in motion.

In this week’s edition of the Great Outdoors, North Coast Community Sailing is helping area youth learn a life-long hobby on Lake Superior.

Tackling the ebb and flow of the big lake, with a breeze from Mother Nature is how Yrsala Peterson enjoys her summer.

“I’ve been sailing since I was six,” said Peterson, an assistant instructor at North Coast Community Sailing.

At the age of eight, Peterson took her first sailing lesson.

“As far as sailing goes, part of it is adrenaline. It can be very exciting. Like, your blood is pumping and you got to do this right now,” said Peterson.

With years of sailing experience under her youthful belt, Peterson now instructs at North Coast.

“It makes you very proud sometimes when your students are out there and they get a concept and you can see them doing wonderfully and in very good wind,” explained Peterson.

The summer sailing program geared towards kids 8 to 15 years old began in 2001.

Jeff Lewis founded the program with a goal of convincing parents it is safe for their kids to be on a Great Lake.

“We just relish the reality that a kid can come up on a Monday to our program and in one week they can go from not having the first idea what’s happening to actually being able to handle this small boat all my themselves,” said Lewis.

The program has been a success.

“I feel really open. It’s fun to be in a car, but it’s even more fun to be in a boat because the wind is powering you. You’re just flying along under only the winds speed,” said Casper Wardyork a junior sailing instructor.

Since the sailing program’s inception more than 1,000 Apostle Island area children have taken part.

“The first thing we really do is get them aware of where the wind is coming from, being aware of how the water is, and how their boat reacts to that,” said Peterson.

Day after day the week long course becomes more complex.

The experience offers much more than just the skills for a hobby.

“What it taught me is a lot of self–reliance. When you’re on the water you have to be very independent,” said Peterson.

The sailing program also offers a handful of classes for adults.

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