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Sailing lessons in high demand at Morro Bay Yacht Club

Posted at 2:45 PM, Jul 27, 2021

Tuesday marks day two of lessons for the 16 students in this week's Summer Sailing Lessons at the Morro Bay Yacht Club.

It is the day that co-director Bob Schwenoha says students start to gain confidence on the water.

"The first day is a challenge," he said. "They're steering the boat, they're nervous. Not quite sure what to do. Second day they're out there, they're like, 'Oh yeah, I've got this.'"

Summer Sailing Lessons are a four-day program that help those new to sailing gain basic proficiency on the water, no prior sailing experience required.

"We certainly prefer that you know how to swim," Schwenoha said.

Students and instructors wear life preservers the whole time they're on the water, he says.

The classes run through the summer, from June 12 to Aug. 12, and they are open to youth and adults. But classes are already filled through the end of the season.

"We had a waiting list from last year. We're already starting a waiting list for next year. And it's first come first serve on the signups," Schwenoha said.

The class takes students through the basics of sailing: how the boat moves in the wind, how the sail plays a role, and how to avoid the "no sail zone."

"You cannot sail directly into the wind," Schwenoha explained.

The lessons don't stop when students lead the water, the co-director said. Students also learn self-reliance and self-confidence.

"Many of our students learn leadership, because every single one of our instructors came through this program," Schwenoha added.

That is the case for Owen Blackwell, an instructor for the Summer Sailing Lessons. After joining the program as a student, he spent time rising through the ranks. The past two summers, Blackwell was a volunteer instructor. This summer, he is paid.

"I really enjoy working with the students. It's a great feeling," he said. "By the last day they can do it by themselves and are having a great time."

Blackwell loves sailing for the connection it offers, with nature and with people.

"You have to be able to coordinate and get along with other people to be able to successfully sail a boat together," he says.

Those looking to sign up for lessons can find more information at Morro Bay Yacht Club's website.