The Grade 5/6 students of Island Pacific School took to the waters of Tunstall Bay on Tuesday morning, marking a return of the Bowen Island Yacht Club’s school sailing program.
The popular school program had been lost to COVID the past two years, although the yacht club (BIYC) still managed to offer its summer sailing courses to approximately 70 island kids ages 7-16. A return to the classroom (in this case, Tunstall Bay) was long overdue. The 14 IPS students who set sail this week will be followed by 28 BICS students later this month.
It’s the perfect age to get kids started with sailing, says BIYC Learn2Sail program coordinator Margo Osinski. “This is the age they would start the CANSail 1 program,” she says of Tuesday’s group. BIYC also offers the WetFeet program for kids as young as seven.
“They pick it up really quickly, and I think part of that is they don’t worry so much about the theory and the technicality of it, they kind of just go out and they experiment,” says Osinski. “By the end of the week-long program they’re actually able to sail a boat together.”
Osinski says introducing kids to sailing at a young age is important, both to better master the skillset, but also for the realities of operating on Bowen. “It’s a very challenging program to run on Bowen. We don’t have kids coming from the mainland, it’s all Bowen kids that sail with us. And that’s sometimes very challenging in terms of we have a very small budget and it’s a very small program,” she says.
School sailing sessions are overseen by several coaches, all of whom started in one of Bowen’s programs themselves. The guides for IPS students included Osinski’s son Ryan.
“It’s so much fun, and my kids have loved it. The reason I got involved is because my son loved it so much,” she says. “He started when he was sevenyears-old and he was just so into it. So I started volunteering and then I ended up running the program. Now I love it, and my younger kids sail too.”
“Everyone knows everyone and it’s a very friendly program. A lot of kids come back through the summer week after week, and it’s great to see the young kids grow into sailors and have a passion for sailing,” says Osinski.
The IPS students spent much of the morning and afternoon on the water before returning to shore. It’s part of a busy week for the school’s Grade 5/6’s – ‘Discovery Week’ began with a hike up Mount Gardner, and Tuesday’s sail was followed by kayaking on Wednesday and an overnight trip to Camp Bow-Isle Thursday, which includes a go at the high ropes course.