Thursday, August 11, 2011

Out On The Elbow - Stage Harbor YC

There are some clubs for which the arrival of media personnel such as myself and Brooke would be an unusual sight. Stage Harbor Yacht Club, however, does not fall into this category. "You're the first team here since the Shark Week guys packed up and left!" explained sailing program director Drew Carlson.

It's hard to upstage the US SAILING Roadshow, but I guess if anyone could do it, the Discovery Channel would have a fair shot. Touche'.

Will and Brooke giving a presentation on the role of US SAILING in the sport.

Luckily, I think we still have those guys beat in the "fun" category.

Descending upon the town of Chatham with our fleet of O'Pen Bics and a truckful of goodies, we received an enthusiastic welcome at Stage Harbor. If I had to design the ideal sailing site from scratch, I must admit it would closely resemble SHYC. Perched on the "elbow" of Cape Cod, at the spot where the landmass takes a sharp turn northward, this place is about as far out into the Atlantic Ocean as one could get while remaining firmly attached to the mainland.

As a result, the consistency of the daily sea breeze is second to none. If the SHYC coaches so desire, they can take their kids outside of the protective sandbars to train in the challenging swells of Nantucket Sound. The interior of the harbor, in contrast, provides a flatter, less breezy, and more relaxed learning environment. In other words, on most days, junior sailors at Stage Harbor have the luxury of choosing almost precisely what kind of conditions they wish to train in. Not a bad setup, if you ask me.

Faced with the dilemma of having an army of kids simultaneously yearning for the chance to sail on an O'Pen Bic, the instructors came up with a solution that reflects the club's sustained success in getting kids hooked on the sport. A "March Madness"-style bracket was created, with each racer's name included, and three Bics competed against one another in an elimination series. Meanwhile, the other two boats were made available for cruising around the harbor. Thus, both racing-types and free-spirit-types were appeased, and all partook in sailing onboard the fun, modern dinghies from Bic Sport. SHYC makes great efforts to offer a program that appeals to every type of junior sailor, and it shows.

While the mere presence of the Shark Week production team might be enough to give some people pause about a visit, the fact remains that at Stage Harbor YC, and in Chatham in general, you will find some of the best sailing conditions, and friendliest people, on the east coast. Get out there and see it for yourself!


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