Youth sailing students stand on dock and watch fellow students try to right a capsized sailboat.

Important lessons include righting a capsized boat.

Each year for three weeks in June, young aspiring sailors learn the ropes during the UYC Maritime Foundation’s Junior Sailing Program. Those ropes including tying common knots used in sailing and the lines – called sheets – that help trim the sails.

In three separate multi-day sessions youngsters ages 6 to 16 take to the water, not only to learn about how to make a sailboat go, but also to build their confidence, work as teams and develop skills that will last them a lifetime.

Current instructors came up the learning ladder, starting as young students in the program. As they learned to sail, they expanded their knowledge and experience working with others. These aspiring instructors have all passed the rigorous standards set by US Sailing, the governing body for the sport across the country. More than half of these instructors are Level  I US Sailing Certified; the others are working as assistant leads or as coaches in training.

Three young sailors at the helm.

Big boats with little sailors at the wheel.

Many of the students are repeats, building their expertise from summer to summer. They provide support to newer, younger students and cheer on those a little hesitant to tackle their first boat-handling experiences at the beginning of each week.

By the end of each session, young lives have changed, students have learned teamwork and confidence, and they return to the next school year with a set of accomplishments to be proud of.

In the 2024 program, more than 45 students participated in at least one of the sessions. In the third week, a separate program for youth from Eagle Ranch for the third week was developed by the UYC Maritime Foundation, members of America’s Boating Club Atlanta and from University Yacht Club. These activities have strengthened the strong community support of Eagle Ranch.

The UYC Foundation sponsors a weekly Sunscreen Series every other Sunday in July and August as well.

Three students in three sailboats on Lake Lanier.

Even when the winds are light, there’s always something to learn.

A young sailor leans outward toward water to balance and improve speed.

Students learn to use their weight to maximize speed.

Here are glimpses into the days on the docks, in the water, in the classroom and on the boats from last month. Enjoy!

Photos: by Billy Earle, Rick Smith and the UYC Maritime Foundation