Youth sailing program proves a hit
PYC Commodore Scott Duncanson has taken heed of legendary sailor Michael Spies’ advice: “Your yacht club is only as strong as your junior sailing program.”
The PYC has created a very successful youth sailing program based on one of the world’s fastest growing youth classes, the O’pen Skiff . The club will soon be taking this unique Open Skiff sail training philosophy to local schools in the hopes of getting more Thai nationals involved in sailing. These learn to sail courses aimed at children aged 7-17 operate every weekend and school holidays with swimming being the only pre-requisite skill required. A session typically lasts three hours with 30-45 minutes theory and rigging on shore, 90 minutes on the water, wrapped up by a de-brief and time learning how to clean, care for and store a boat.
What the club has discovered is that the more parents see their children enjoy their time on the water; the more they want to become involved themselves and this has been a driver of many new memberships. As such, the club launched a three-day dinghy sailing clinic for adults in July. This included a short passage sail to Koh Lon and an overnight stay at the Cruiser Island Resort.
Scott said it was very enjoyable seeing participating families connecting face to face and building relationships through sailing. A bon-fire on the beach, fireworks, toasting marshmallows, hermit crab racing, the simple things in life that so many young ones are missing out on these days due to the electronic device and gaming revolution.
In addition to regular club racing and regattas, Family Fun Days are now a main-stay at the Club whereby youth and adult sailors can make a short sailing passage to nearby islands, parents can go along as well in an adult dinghy, or by long-tail boat. Eighty people joined in the last event, which is testament to the very successful formula. One parent had so much fun that he went out and bought a 7m RIB while others have invested in larger adult dinghies to take part in island adventures and the club’s monthly dinghy racing
The PYC’s youth sail-training program has continued to gain pace through-out 2020 operating at or near capacity every weekend. The school summer holiday sailing program was an enormous success with six courses varying from beginners to intermediates being held over seven weeks. Nearly 100 children visited the club and took the opportunity to get themselves on the water and try sailing.
The PYC recently took 10 O’pen Skiffs and seven youth sailors to Sattahip for the Thailand National Sailing Championships, they loaned three boats to the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) and a sailing club in Prachuap Khiri Khan so sailors from those clubs could compete in the class as well.
“Three PYC sailors were supposed to have been in Sardinia, Italy, for the World Championships but unfortunately the Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions put a stop to that,” said Scott “Although initially very disappointing the Worlds have now been rescheduled to July 2021 so we viewed the Thai National Championship Regatta as a perfect stepping stone for these young sailors towards international level competition.”
During the COVID-19, these were the only sailing competitions happening in Phuket, indeed most of Thailand and provided a wonderful break from the worries of the pandemic or all competitors. While most regional regattas have been struggling for participant numbers the PYC’s low cost, sailor focused events are experiencing year on year growth despite the pandemic and tough economic times.
The club is open-air and looks out onto Chalong, Bay which is a very safe anchorage for larger cruising yachts and near ideal for learning to sail. It is largely protected from the full force of the North East and South Westerly monsoon winds making sailing all year round possible.
The Club also has a busy social program stages movie and trivia nights and there is a big screen to enjoy major sporting events.
“There are many yacht clubs in Thailand with superior facilities but people are our strength and we have developed a unique club, cultural signature, a jai-dee culture,” says Duncanson. “Earlier in the year, the club raised over Bt100,000 for a sick club member, Mark Horwood.”
The PYC also recently donated BHT 38,670 to Disabled Sailing Thailand. The funds were raised through auction proceeds and various donations at a memorial ceremony for dearly loved Phuket Yacht Club supporter Kathy de Cruz who passed away in September
The PYC is a non-profit organization, which has been operating out of Chalong Bay for over a quarter- of-a-century. It is affiliated with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand (YRAT) and has recently been accredited by the International Sailing Schools Association (ISSA).