Sailing program teaches kids nautical know-how

Open House Feb. 21 at Rush Creek Yacht Club

Photos courtesy of Gustav Scmiege.

ROCKWALL/HEATH, TX (Feb. 2, 2014) Rush Creek Yacht Club invites kids from around Lake Ray Hubbard to come enjoy free food, drinks and sailboat rides during its Youth Sailing Open House on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21.

Taking place at the RCYC Doolin Education Center at 320 Rush Creek Drive, the event will include sailboat rides for children ages seven and up. Kids can also enjoy hotdogs, chips, drinks and desserts, participate in other fun sailing activities such as rigging and tying a sailor’s knot, and learn from other kids their age about the RCYC Junior Sailing Program.

“The RCYC Junior Sailing Program is something that can open doors for a lot of kids,” said Wendy Vandling, vice commodore of education for the RCYC. “The kids put their whole heart into it and we see a lot of dedication from them.RushCreekhas some decorated sailors and champions in its past, and we want to bring that back and build up our youth.”

Youth within the Rockwall ISD who are a part of the RCYC Junior Sailing Program can also earn credit hours for P.E., a perk that Vandling said the program only recently became approved for.

The youth sailing program at the RCYC has seen its members become very active in not only regional sailing competitions but in regattas across the country.

Last year, the program saw two of its youth sailors – Rockwall Heath High School students Natalie Hopper and Katy Hannan – become Girls Texas State Champions at the Club 420 National Championships in San Diego, CA. Hanna Progelhof, Andrew Vandling and Carter Calk competed in the 2014 United States Optimist Dinghy Association National Championship in Marina Del Rey, CA. Cain middle schooler Andrew placed 25th Opti Overall and 7th in the Red Fleet. Carter, who attends Amy Parks Heath Elementary, placed 5th overall in the Laser 4.7. Hanna, who attends school outside the RISD, placed 8th Opti and 3rd in the Blue Fleet.

According to Alex Padgett, the RCYC Junior Sailing Program manager and head coach, sailing is a sport that can teach kids valuable life skills and can provide a challenge for even the most veteran of sailors.

“I think one of the best things about the sport of sailing is that no matter what age you start, it’s a lifelong sport,” Padgett said. “There’s always a higher level you can reach no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been sailing.”

During school months, the RCYC youth sailing program offers after-school classes for elementary, middle and high school-aged kids. Boats and other equipment are available at the yacht club, so those who are just starting out won’t have to worry about purchasing their own equipment and can just focus on having fun learning the ins and outs of the sport.

While Junior Session I of the program is currently underway preparing for the start of the sailing season with the Kick Off Regatta at Lakewood Yacht Club Feb. 28 – March 1, the Spring Break Sailing Camp and Racing Clinic offered at the RCYC will provide a great opportunity for kids interested in learning to sail to do just that. The camp begins March 9 and lasts through March 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and is open to children ages 8-18. Those who bring their own boat will also get a $40 discount.

For more information regarding membership fees, registration and class schedules, visit the RCYC website at

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News staff writer. Photos courtesy of Gustav Scmiege.

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