Bellport Bay Sailing Foundation hosts growing summer sailing program
For seven weeks each summer, local kids and teens have a chance to hit the open waters of Bellport Bay and learn how to sail a boat. Through a program by the Bellport Bay Sailing Foundation, kids can learn the basic skills to get a boat moving, all the way up to advanced skills needed to win a competitive race.
“I can’t say enough of the positive things sailing does for people,” said Jonathan Pokorny, president of the BBSF.
Kids get started on the journey young, usually around age 6 or 7, Pokorny said. They start off in the beginner class, which happens early in the morning when there is less wind, using small boats. Before even stepping on a boat, instructors will do demonstrations and educate the young sailors on the beach at the Bellport Marina, showing them each thing they’ll need to know in the water. They also get the kids accustomed to the water itself, showing them safety tips and more.
As the kids improve their skills, they move into the more advanced classes, which give them a more “technical” apparatus to handle and more difficult weather conditions. Pokorny has seen this with his own daughters, who started sailing when they were 7, going on to race in college, then coming back to teach. Many of the instructional staff for the program are alumni.
The program also brings participants outside of their home turf. The races that the group participates in range from different areas of the Great South Bay to the larger competitions in New England or New Jersey. They just recently sent two boats to a national race in Newport, R.I. Pokorny said it’s a sport that brings people out of their comfort zone, gives them a chance to work with others, and spend time outdoors. And he’s never heard of anyone being bored.
“Being a parent of sailors, it develops a tremendous amount of individual confidence,” he said.
The program runs only in the summer and is open to anyone, not just village residents. The sailing foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Regatta Aug. 31
The Great South Bay Yacht Racing Association and the Bellport Bay Yacht Club will host a Labor Day Regatta on Aug. 31. For more information, visit www.bellportbayyachtclub.org.
How to get involved
Registration for the summer sailing program begins in the spring, around March, and sells out quickly. To keep an eye out for the opening and to register, visit www.bbsf.webs.com.