2021 Year In Review and 2022 Plans
Dear Friends of Sail Orcas,
I could not be more excited or proud to share what has been going on this year. The amount of hard work from our volunteers, families, and supporters has resulted in a vibrant youth sailing scene with a lot of potential. After closing our doors in 2020 to do our part in keeping the community safe from COVID-19, the effort to get back on the water has been cautious, but resulted in a young group of sailors who were ready to face anything.
How Our Year Started:
Over the winter of 2020/2021, one parent took it upon himself to keep kids sailing. Thanks to Steve Vurno, Orcas and San Juan Island have some of the best youth sailors in the Northwest, as well as a new crop of Laser sailors ready to learn. The momentum created by Steve and Kai has translated into a more active community Laser program, a more competitive race team, and has showcased what Sail Orcas has to offer. The entire Vurno family should be credited with a large part of our program’s success. Thank you to Jen, Steve, and their wonderful kids.
Over the summer, we returned to our learn to sail instruction slowly and with a measured, cautious approach. This meant masks any time kids were around each other, staying in ventilated/outdoor areas, single-handed sailing, and limited class sizes with two instructors. Our approach worked, and we are happy to report that we had no sick kids or instructors! What we did was to have a lot of fun, learning, and new programs.
We brought back our Women’s Learn to Sail program, taught exclusively by-women for-women. What was supposed to be 6 classes turned into 10, then 14, then the West Sound Women’s Sailing Association. The program is still young, but we have ambitions to create more opportunities to get women on the water racing, teaching, and enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
We also brought back Tuesday Night Laser Sailing for anyone who wanted to try it out. This program resulted in some Sail Orcas alumni coming out to race, staying to fix Lasers for kids going to wind, and even help coach at single hand quals this fall (the Burke Thompson trophy) and our other away team events. Summer highlights also included get the 29’ers up and running, new US Sailing certifications for our instructors, and our July 3rd Parade Float. Our plans for the future include more environmental and marine science focused classes, and continuing to provide sailing opportunities to a wider range of people through making more of our programs adaptive to those with disabilities.