Sail Orcas opens registration
for summer classes
Get ready to get out on the water!
Due to Covid-19, we are trying out a different sailing season this summer. With the help of OICF, instead of our
normal sequence and size of classes, we are specializing our classes to keep sizes smaller than normal, and classes will
be differentiated by skill level. Class sizes will be initially limited to 6 kids. Classes are divided into morning and afternoon sessions and run 4 days a week. As the season progresses, we may be able to expand class sizes beyond 6 students. We will maintain a waiting list for our classes.
Here is a description of our youth classes:
Youth Beginner (recommended ages 8 to 13)
The fundamentals of how to sail. Kids learn how to identify where the wind is coming from, make their boat move accordingly,
recover a capsize, dock, and get in and out of safety position. The class uses Opti Prams and Open Bics. For kids that
know the basics but are still working to master them, this class is also a refresher on how to sail and an opportunity
to continue gaining confidence before moving into the intermediate class. The class is taught in Vanguard Prams, Open Bics,
and the possibility for larger boats based on sailor skill and COVID restrictions.
Youth Intermediate (recommended ages 9 to 14)
For sailors who are comfortable with the basic boat mechanics and are ready to move into sailing a higher performance
boat. For single handed sailing this class will feature Open Bics and Laser 4.7's based on skill level, size, and sailor goals.
We will be focusing on how to use more controls on the boat and move into understanding the basics of racing.
Youth Advanced (recommended ages 10 to 14)
A continuation of learning how to adjust the boat in different wind conditions, how sail shape affects speed, and
learning more about the fundamentals of racing. All kids are encouraged to begin taking part in Laser, Opti, or Open Bic
racing. Drills will be based on teaching greater mastery of boat handling and a deeper understanding of the rules.
This summer we’re excited to be piloting a STEM Marine Science and Sailing program. The aim of the class is to connect
kids to the Salish Sea and build their understanding of how the marine ecosystem functions. The class offers opportunities
at home for family interaction with the materials and will be taught during the afternoon session the week of the August 2nd.
The course was built using SeaDoc educational materials and is geared for kids from 4th through 6th grade. (We will be
weaving Marine Sciences into our regular weekly classes to give all kids a taste of this class for future years.)
We are also running six Women’s Learn to Sail classes on Monday evenings. This is a class taught by women for women.
The goal is to get more women out on the water and help them achieve whatever their sailing goals may be. Whether it’s
learning the basics of how to sail or getting involved with the yacht club race scene, we’re here to teach. Our classes
start in two person dinghies and this year we’ll have options for learning in larger keelboats. Class size will be
initially limited to 6.
Tuesday nights will be Informal Laser racing for all ages, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Lasers provided by Sail Orcas
will be initially limited to 6.
Watch our Facebook page for additional special events, races, or clinics this summer.
Greetings, Friends of Sail Orcas!
2020 will be a year that few forget – the COVID 19 pandemic impacted everything, causing closures and
changes everywhere. We were saddened at the loss of Board member Les Zorb just recently, as well. Sail
Orcas programs were also affected, but one bright spot was that we found ways to keep working with our
"You are the only people I see outside of my mom and dad."
Board member Steve Vurno and his son, Kai, volunteered to begin working with our sailing juniors in Lasers
(singlehanded sailing dinghies) in early summer using COVID-safe protocols that included social distancing,
wearing masks, and staying outside. Soon, they were working with 5-10 kids in Lasers, focusing on sailing drills
and running practice races. For these kids (age 12-16), these
workouts are often their only social interaction “in real life” (i.e.,
not on the computer). Typically, our sailing juniors (middle school
and high school sailors) cease practicing in mid-autumn, but 2020
has been different – they continue to practice. This has been a
tremendous learning opportunity for them, as they are embracing
heavy-air sailing that is typical of the weather we have this time of
year. Steve and Kai were also honored recently by Sail Orcas and
Orcas Island Yacht Club for their efforts to keep Orcas kids sailing
safely through the pandemic.
Looking forward to 2021
Sail Orcas is optimistic about 2021, but we are also being realistic. The immediate need in our community
is to keep kids active and interacting in a safe activity during a pandemic, and we intend to support these
efforts. Specifically, we ask for your help to refurbish the Lasers, which are being used multiple times
each week, so that they are roughly equivalent to each other (~$600/Laser, total $6,000 for all ten). We will
get back to a new normal eventually, and when we do, we will need to be ready for summer lessons,
middle/high school racing, and programs that keep our community excited to be sailing in the beautiful
area in which we live. Please consider the work we do when you are planning for your upcoming
Every donation is tax deductible; check should be made payable to Sail Orcas and mailed to PO Box 1226,
Eastsound WA, 98245. Thank you for your support – we are grateful for it!
All the best from the volunteers who make Sail Orcas go.
2019 Year In Review
What a year we've had - it's been one of memories made, as well as new beginnings! Below you'll find a
snapshot of what we have accomplished and where we are looking to grow. Your support, both financial
and with volunteer hours, has been instrumental in our success this year, and we hope you will consider us
in your giving plans for the end of 2019 and into 2020.
2019 in review
- Our OIHS sailing team graduated six seniors in June, after taking the Bronze Medal in both the NWISA
fleet and team race District Championships in May. Our team was selected for the 2019 NWISA
Sportsmanship Award - a prestigious distinction awarded by their peers. These sailors learned to sail
through the Sail Orcas junior summer sailing lessons at OIYC and joined the OIHS team in the 7th grade;
they will all be greatly missed. Several of them plan to continue their sailing careers at the collegiate
level, so Orcas sailing (and sportsmanship) will continue to "pay it forward" and enrich other programs.
- We are developing the next cohort of young sailors through Steve Verno's efforts to develop a middle
school sailing team. He has been organizing practices with our remaining OIHS sailors (most who had
been crewing for graduating seniors) and our up-and-coming middle school sailors. Steve has engaged
interested adult racers to participate in the practices, as well as traveled with the young sailors to six
regattas and the WIND clinic this summer.
- Sail Orcas has accomplished the goal of funding the first and second phases of the dinghy floats
project, through the generous support of our friends, OIYC, the Vincent J. Coates Foundation, and the
GiveOrcas spring 2019 campaign! We now have two safe, eelgrass-friendly floats that support our
- Our summer sailing program was a tremendous success. ln addition to the junior sailing programs that
help to instill a lifetime love of sailing and nature with school age kids, we had overwhelming response to
a woman's sailing program and our Tuesday night "open to all racers" Laser races (23 community
members came out!). Sail Orcas was also selected to receive funding to support several sailing
scholarships for next year's programs from the Orcas Rotary club.
Sail Orcas is excited about the year ahead. Several priorities include funding a staff sailing coach to
oversee our middle school, high school, and summer programs; and replacing the outboard engine on
one of our coach boats.
Every donation is tax deductible; check should be made payable to Sail Orcas and mailed to PO Box
1226, Eastsound WA, 98245. Thank you for your support - we are grateful for it!
All the best from the board of directors,
Burke Thomas, Diane Jarecki, Ken Machtley, Betsy Wareham, Steve Verno, Bob Brunius, David Kau, Justin Wolfe, Les Zorb, Vaughn Ploeger, Chis Wolfe
Orcas Vikings Win Island Cup
NWISA District Champ Qualifier Regatta
The 20 best Northwest high school sailing teams from as far away as Hood River, Oregon converged on Orcas Island
April 13 and 14 for Northwest District Interscholastic Sailing Association’s annual Islands Cup Regatta.
The regatta rotates location each year between high school teams from Island, Skagit and San Juan counties. The teams
arrived Saturday morning ready to take on strong winds and a 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast.
Mother Nature did not disappoint. For the next six hours, teams battled each other out on the choppy waters of West
Sound in the wind-driven rain. At the end of Saturday’s racing, Orcas held a slim 4-point lead over Gig Harbor with
a pack of other teams all within striking distance of the cup.
On Sunday, sailors arrived to no rain, and a brisk west wind, racing started promptly at 9:30 a.m. and for the next
five hours the lead changed back and forth between Gig Harbor and Orcas, but in the end, Orcas held on for the regatta win.
"Today was some of the best racing I have seen on West Sound," said coach Burke Thomas. "This was a big win for the Vikings,
and I am very proud how we battled all weekend."
Thomas extended a big thank you to the Orcas Island Yacht Club and volunteers for providing the venue.
Complete scores are at: Results
New Dingy Float Construction
Sail Orcas is excited to announce that our priority mission for facilities in 2019 is to
replace our aging floats at the base of the OIYC pier. This has been a multi-year undertaking that began design and
permitting in 2015. The new, fully permitted floats will feature a nonskid, environmentally friendly grating that will
protect our local eel grass and provide a safe, clean platform for our students and programs for years to come. The
new floats are a major undertaking for us, and this season we are asking for your financial help. Please consider
joining us in making a contribution to the floats.
Your donation is tax deductible; check should be made payable to Sail Orcas and mailed to PO Box 1226, Eastsound WA, 98245.
Alternatively you could use the online donation form and your credit
card: Fund the Floats
NWISA SAIL SANDPOINT COMBINED DIVISION REGATTA
March 9th and 10th
Ten Sailors from the Orcas High School Sailing Team travelled to the SSP combined division regatta march 9&10 in Seattle.
The regatta features a schools A & B divisions boats competing in the same fleet and racing against each other at the
same time, pitting 32 boats against each other on a very crowded start line. Orcas had qualified teams at the regionals
March 2nd into both the gold and silver divisions for the combined division regatta, giving all sailors an opportunity
to race every race.
Saturday saw a 5 knot northerly breeze fill the race course on Lake Washington by 11:30 am,the breeze continued to
build through out the after noon, 6 races were completed in gold and 4 races in silver. The racing started at 11:30am
and continued until 6:30 pm, when darkness and freezing temps forced the competitors off the water. Sunday brought
warmer temperatures but little wind, with just 3 races completed in a very light and shifty North East Wind. Getting
off the starting line in a 32 boat fleet is no easy task and teams that could do that had a huge advantage on the
first beat by being up the ladder from the big wind shadow created by the 32 boats.
The orcas team improved on their starting tactics throughout the weekend and were able to grab a very respectable 4th
overall in the gold fleet and 3rd in the silver fleet. Complete results can be found here:
NWISA NORTH REGIONAL ICE BREAKER REGATTA
MARCH 2 at ANACORTES WA
Eight Sailors from the Orcas High School Sailing Team, traveled to Anacortes on March 2nd to kickoff the NWISA
spring sailing season. The eighteen teams competing at the north regional, were greeted at the 10am competitors meeting,
with sunny skies and a very cold NE 12 wind. The Windward-Leeward race course was set outside
the jetty at Seafarer’s park in Fidalgo Bay, with the pier providing excellent viewing for spectators.
The wind on the race course was streaky, making it hard for teams to get off the start line,the Orcas team had to
shake off a little winters rust in their first race but as the wind built through out the day, the Vikings team just
got stronger, completing 10 races by the 5 pm stop time and clinching a solid regatta win.
News and Views
Eighty youth sailors from around the region came to Westsound in late October to race in the annual two day team
racing “Trick or Treat Regatta”. Many thanks to the many volunteers from Sail Orcas who help make this a fun annual
tradition. Pictured here is Team Where’s Waldo and a Team of Pirates from the Caribbean.