This volunteer, nonprofit public organization exists to share the joy of sailing with both youth and adults by providing high-quality instruction and affordable access to boats and facilities. Sail Orcas strives to teach this lifetime sport by promoting safe boat handling, teamwork, sportsmanship, camaraderie and marine stewardship.
Through its close relationship with Sail Orcas, the Orcas Island Yacht Club continues its tradition of supporting youth sailing activities. With attendance reaching over 200 students each year, this OIYC-sponsored program has become one of the largest youth activities on the island. The 2008 merger of the OIYC Junior Sailing Program and the Sail Orcas Foundation combined resources and reduced expenses, while maintaining the mission to introduce young people to sailing.
As before, the volunteers that make this worthy endeavor possible are dependent upon the continued support and good will of the community and particularly of the Yacht Club and its West Sound facilities. Summer sessions are offered for children 7-15 years of age in the OIYC Junior Lessons Program, beginning at the end of June and running through the second week of August. All instruction is based on the U.S. Sailing Program for small boats and dinghies, and employs U.S. Sailing Certified Instructors.
During spring and fall quarters, sessions are offered for Middle School students in the OIYC Middle School Exploratory Sailing Lessons. Many of the young people who are introduced to sailing via the OIYC Junior Lessons Program and OIYC Middle School Exploratory Sailing Lessons, go on to race competitively with the Sail Orcas club team of Orcas High School. These programs have practice sessions two to four times a week on West Sound and participate in numerous regattas throughout the season. The team is blessed with great local talent, a fantastic coach, and a spectacular venue.
Adult Sailing Lessons are offered spring through fall. OIYC has made available the Club’s docks and Picnic Shelter and has constructed a storage facility for the youth sailing equipment. Many of our Yacht Club members have contributed time, energy, and resources to help Sail Orcas achieve its remarkable results. There is much work to be done going forward and willing volunteers are greatly appreciated. If you would like to help the cause, please contact Burke Thomas (360) 376-2926.
West Sound, is the smaller sister of the two "Sounds" on Orcas Island. The other being naturally, East Sound. West Sound is the home of the Orcas Island Yacht Club which provides dock space and shelter facilities for the Junior Sailing Program and the Orcas High School Racing Team. The Sound also has the West Sound Marina which is the location of our Cal 20 sail boats.
West Sound, with its protected waters, gentle breezes and ample size — 1 mile by 3 miles — is the ideal venue for club racing, sailing instruction, and afternoon day sailing. Members who borrow the Cal 20s for the day are asked not to leave West Sound hence the dotted line at the south end. South of that line there is more frequent power boat traffic, including WS Ferries on their way to and from Friday Harbor.