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Youth Sailing | Developing a Pipeline of Youth Sailors

Youth Sailing | Developing a Pipeline of Youth Sailors

Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club
Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club
Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club
Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club
Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club +20
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Image Courtesy of Pensacola Yacht Club

Pensacola Yacht Club has been instrumental in developing the foundation of the maritime community in Pensacola since its opening in 1908. Situated on 22 acres of Bayou Chico waterfront, the Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) boasts a marina large enough for 70-foot boats, a dry dock with launching ramp, a private beach for the enjoyment of small watercraft, a pool, and a full-service restaurant equipped for events and banquets. With a celebrated history of regattas and a proud membership of over 700, it stands as a landmark along the Gulf Coast.

PYC is well-known for its passion for sailing and maritime activities, developing youth sailing programs, and, more recently, playing an integral role in bringing Pensacola to the forefront of the national sailing community. Locally hosting national events, including the U.S. Sailing Youth National Championship and the USA Junior Olympic Festival, make it possible for PYC to showcase Pensacola Bay as a recreational body of water, an asset to the sailing community, and an environmentally conscious economic driver. (Please visit PensacolaYachtClub.org for event details.)

Designated as a Florida Clean Marina, PYC is proud of its commitment to environmental stewardship. Protecting Florida’s waterways and sensitive habitats prompted the Club’s implementation of strict standards, including exceptional boat maintenance practices and zero use of single-use plastic bottles.

Youth Sailing

 The PYC Junior Sailing and Summer Sailing Camp programs, touted as the best youth sailing instruction and coaching programs in the Southeast, have gained tremendous traction. Led by Sailing Director Cesar Travado, the Junior Sailing Program welcomes multinational junior sailors of all sailing experience levels, with one summer session hosting junior sailors from twelve different countries. Junior sailors learn about sailing and water safety in a controlled environment using club-owned Optimist sailboats, which are ideal for those new to the sport.

The youth programs teach more than sailing. “Kids can be on the water, pull a string, and make a boat go. Sailing is one of the most empowering things that anyone can do. For our young sailors, it teaches self-reliance and confidence – it empowers them,” says Tom Pace, Vice Commodore of Pensacola Yacht Club.

PYC works closely with the Satori Foundation to fund summer youth program scholarships for less-advantaged children. Scholarships cover the cost of the program as well as many requisite items – personal flotation devices, water shoes, sun exposure protection, and more.

Vetting Pensacola

Pace is a key voice in advocating for Pensacola as an ideal location for all critical aspects of sailing, including team training, hosting large scale regattas and events, and increasing awareness of the sport. As evidenced by American Magic’s return to Pensacola, Pace’s efforts are proving successful“With the help of PYC board members and staff, Port of Pensacola, and local officials, we are developing mutually beneficial interest and awareness about what this area provides in terms of safety, race management, sponsor relationships, and event support,” he states. The Club’s notoriety has allowed Pensacola to gain attraction from other sailing organizations, including U.S. Sailing, Fish Class Association, Flying Scott Class, USODA (United States Optimist Dinghy Association), Melges 24 Class, Thistle Class, Kona Windsurfing Class, and the Gulf Yachting Association.

In 2028, the United States will host the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Ideal conditions are critical for teams training at elite levels. Within the U.S. Sailing Association, there are locations across the country where adult and youth teams have limited training seasons due to location, weather, or water conditions. U.S. Sailing is making significant strides ensuring the U.S. team and its pipeline of youth sailors have “established programs that quickly and efficiently benefit the most sailors,” adds Pace. 

Pensacola Bay is unlike other waterways. It is an enclosed environment blocked from the open Gulf water. The bay has limited commercial traffic, an essential range of weather conditions, and no major rocky points making it safer for training. Pace continues, “The sailing community, executives, and key decision-makers are taking notice of what Pensacola has to offer. It checks a lot of boxes for ideal training conditions, including its proximity to racecourses, favorable climate, and unique bay.” 

Pensacola Yacht Club welcomes keen interest focused on what Pensacola has to offer. “Come on in; the water is just fine,” boasts Pace.

PENSACOLA YACHT CLUB
1897 Cypress St
Pensacola, FL 32502
pensacolayachtclub.org

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