NYAC Sea Pups Program
You’re eight years old, standing completely frozen; watching as your instructor slowly guides your new Opti into the water. As the Opti floats calmly waiting for you to get in… your unused gloves quiver, a tear wells up behind the perfectly polarized sunglasses. But nothing seems worse than getting in that boat. While it might eventually lead to a love for sailing that will last a lifetime, everyone remembers their second week of sailing camp when they first had to step foot in a boat alone. For most, it was horrible. New York Athletic Club is not only overturning this fear, but, as of 2015, giving younger kids a chance to be to begin sailing. Sea Pups is a program that NYAC introduced last season in order to provide sailors ages five to eight with an introduction to sailing. The Sea Pups program puts three sailors into a Club 420 with one instructor and gets them out on the water. Often programs will only accept new sailors at eight years old and will have education on land for two weeks, then go straight to sailing solo. When comparing the Sea Pups to students who start at eight years old going straight into Opti’s, NYAC head instructor Lauren Bednarz says, “there is definitely less ‘stress’ on the sailor. By keeping the Sea Pups in small groups, they are able to ease their way onto the water through close conversation and sometimes song.” Bednarz also said that the kids introduced first to the C420’s often had an easier time transitioning into the Opti, most kids were eager to fly solo two weeks into the program!
Sea Pups also solves another problem in many junior sailing programs of kids having started in other athletic camps by the time they are eight, with Sea Pups providing a hybrid of summer camp and sailing NYAC are able to grab kids early. New York Athletic Club is looking forward to growing the Sea Pups program this season and believes it will continue to be a great success.