The Tred Avon Yacht Club (TAYC) Junior Sailing Program was founded in 1940 by Sigurd Hersloff with the addition of Penguins as a club fleet. Sigurd’s relatives remain as active club members today, including his great niece Harriett Downes-Slaughter and her daughter, Allison Rogers, and grandchildren Lydia and Matthew. The fleet of Penguins for Junior Sailing has been replaced by the iconic Opti and bolstered with Lasers and c420s. However, the Penguin class still races at TAYC regattas and other events on the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, TAYC’s Junior Sailing program is led by Scott Leppert, Junior Sailing Program Director, with the guidance of the Junior Sailing Committee spearheaded by Richard Ward, Governor for Sailing Programs at TAYC. Ironically, Scott is a Penguin sailor and is restoring a classic Penguin with his father.
As Program Director, Scott incorporates a lot of his life’s experiences. He is a high school special education teacher and instructor trainer for US Sailing. Scott is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he was elected sailing team captain. After college, Scott coached college sailing at the University of Washington and Roger Williams University, among others. Additionally, Scott was the Sailing Director at Sachems Head Yacht Club in Connecticut and Head Sailing Instructor at the Seattle Yacht Club with over 400 students. Scott has sailed competitively in many classes, including the Laser, Vanguard 15, Snipe, and Star, in which he competed in the Olympic Trials.
The TAYC Jr. Sailing program is one of the top and most well-respected programs on the Chesapeake Bay. The Junior racing teams, led by Head Racing Coach Josh Paper of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, remain highly competitive with the Opti, Laser and c420 classes competing in about 12 regattas around the Bay. This year the Optis will compete in the Opti Nationals in Norfolk, Virginia, and the c420s at the Nationals in Brant Beach, New Jersey.
To develop young sailors, the TAYC Junior Sailing programing must adapt to meet the needs of the children and parents involved. They have offerings for the traditional racers as well as those that want to just sail for fun. For 2020, the TAYC team has worked hard to make changes that they hope will provide their junior sailors with more opportunities to maximize sailing time, learn the fundamentals and, of course, have fun.
Classes start for six and seven-year-olds with Sea Squirts, a new offering designed to be a fun class exposing young children to boats, sailing, and TAYC. They will be introduced to parts of a boat, sailing vocabulary, boating safety, rigging, and knot tying. They will take part in rigging, sailing games, arts and crafts, towing, boat rides, sailing with a buddy, Bay cruises, motorboat rides, and having fun. The staple of this class will be three to four sailors in a c420 with an instructor, taking turns at the helm and sail controls.
For eight- to 10-year-olds, sailors in Overboard Optis will have fun learning all the basics of sailing. As sailors move through this class, they will develop skills and confidence. Junior sailors will learn wind direction, boat parts, sailing the points of sail, sailing games, rigging, capsize and recovery, seamanship, knots, tacking, gybing, sailing to destinations, steering, docking, basic racing, and equipment respect.
The Junior Jibers class (10- to 13-year-olds) will build on mastering the skills taught in Overboard Optis. In addition, they will begin to learn advanced boat handling techniques like acceleration, deceleration, roll tacking / jibing, sailing efficient angles and sailing by the lee, among others. They will also work on understanding sail shape, boat set up, and care for their boats.
Additional support and boats have been added to the c420 class for 2020. The c420 is the two-handed, or two-person, boat for older children aging or sizing out of the Opti. The c420 is the boat used by many high school and college sailing programs. Again, this class is divided into recreational and racing tracks and is a good entry point for older children with interest in sailing as well as those that want to sail with a friend.
A safe and supportive sailing environment is key to the TAYC program. All of the coaches in the TAYC Junior Sailing Program are U.S. Sailing Certified Level 1 or greater. Many have grown up in the TAYC program and several have significant experience at the national or international level sailing events. One first year coach has circumnavigated the world and made two trans-Pacific crossings. Class sizes are limited by U.S. Sailing guidelines. The program runs from June 15 to August 6. Junior Summer Memberships are available to non-members and boats are available for lease. For more information, visit www.tayc.com or contact Scott Leppert, Junior Sailing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAYC Jr. Sailing has come a long way in the past 80 years and it is poised for another successful 80 years to come.