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Youth Sailing Grows in Georgetown

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A dream has come true for a group of local sailing enthusiasts in Georgetown, S.C., as a newly created summer youth sailing camp begins its second year in June. Prompted by high school freshman Griffin Marteau’s quest for local youth sailing programs, the community joined forces with Griffin to develop the South Carolina Maritime Museum Youth Sailing Program.

Last year, Griffin began complaining to his mom about the lack of sailing opportunities for the kids in the area. She strongly encouraged him to stop whining and find a solution. His first call was to Susan Sanders, head of the South Carolina Maritime Museum in Georgetown. Together they recruited other members of the community to form the South Carolina Maritime Museum Youth Sailing Committee. The committee not only supported Griffin’s vision, but was confident that creating local youth sailing opportunities was possible.

The first hurdle was to choose what boat to use. The Optimist Pram, widely recognized as an ideal boat for teaching junior sailors, was selected because it is not as tippy as other models. The Pram makes the younger and first time sailors feel more comfortable while still providing a challenge for the older students. Since 85% of the sailing medal winners in the last Olympics began as Opti sailors, this choice of boat is a good platform for future Olympians.

Photo courtesy of South Carolina Maritime Youth Sailing Program
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Maritime Youth Sailing Program

With the style of boat chosen, Griffin set out to find an economical way to build a fleet. He approached the area’s most talented boat builders, many of whom compete in the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show’s building competition, to provide the labor to build the Optimist. Next, twelve individuals and companies offered to sponsor an individual boat in return for naming rights on a boat for three years. Atlantic Veneer Mill Outlet in Beaufort, N.C., provided the wood for the boats at a deep discount and the building began. The Coastal Eye Group funded the first boat of the fleet and named her the Coastal FLeyeR. Griffin had the honor of sailing Coastal FLeyeR in the Parade of Boats at last year’s Wooden Boat Show.

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Continuing with his mission, Griffin is currently teaching sailing at the Tara Hall Home for Boys, and will be a junior instructor at the summer camps.

The committee continues to seek sponsors to build more boats. Sanders recently received donations from two more sponsors, bringing the fleet to 14 boats this summer. The program is also in need of an 8 to 9-foot rigid inflatable boat, pieces of indoor/outdoor carpeting, a boarding ladder for the dock, and the loan (for the season) of a Sunfish.

In addition to sailing and rigging skills, students also learn sailing terms, knot tying, and rules of the road. The two-week sessions are Monday through Friday for 4 hours a day, and are open to kids 8 to 14 years old. Sessions begin June 2, and run through July. August sessions will depend on instructor availability. The camp is taught by Fred Hoelscher, a certified US Sailing Small Boat Level 1 Sailing Instructor, assisted by Dave Lowe, Mary McAlister and Lee Talbot. Each class has a four to one student to instructor ratio.

Registration is open now at www.scmaritimemuseum.org.

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