A Taste of Sail, One Sailor at a Time

photo by Bruce Lombardo

By Allen Penticoff

Editor’s note: A Taste of Sail! I love this concept and I know it’s practiced at clubs all over. But if it doesn’t happen in your community, hopefully you’ll be inspired by A Taste of Sail to start something similar. It’s having fun doing good.

To spark sailing interest among our community (and to attract folks to join our little dry-land yacht club), we of the Rockford Yacht Club of Rockford, Illinois, have for many years now hosted an annual public event we call, A Taste of Sail.

A Taste of Sail is held on a small lake within the confines of a state park near our homes. Typically, we have four or five daysailer-sized boats or pocket cruisers to provide the rides.

In the past we took reservations and filled in empty sessions with drop-ins. But this was something of a hassle and we were seeing a drop off in public interest. Then we started putting up the yard signs in the busy park along with the free community calendar advertising, and we doubled our participation. Half-hour sailing sessions are provided on a first come, first served basis. In 2018 we took one hundred folks out for a short tour of the lake under sail.

photo by Bruce Lombardo

A Taste of Sail is held the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend in June. We accept all ages and will provide hands-on “lessons” to those who seem interested, or just rides to those who are not. Some quickly adapt to sailing a boat. Others, not so much, but enjoy the experience nonetheless.

Young children, accompanied by an adult, often seem distracted or even not interested at all, only wanting to drag their hand in the water. We know that we are planting a seed with them. Hopefully someday when they are older they will say, “You know, I went for a sailboat ride once… and I liked it.”

That’s all we are after, planting seeds for the future.

And it happens to be a lot of fun.

photo by Bruce Lombardo

Allen Penticoff, a Good Old Boat contributing editor, is a freelance writer, sailor, and longtime aviator. He has trailer-sailed on every Great Lake and on many inland waters and has had keelboat adventures on fresh and salt water. He owns an American 14.5, a MacGregor 26D, and a 1955 Beister 42-foot steel cutter that he stores as a “someday project.”

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