Tuesday, October 1, 2013

West Coat Tour - Back to School at Club Nautique

by Kate Sheahan
West Coast Tour Coordinator

photo courtesy of Roger Parker
If you are looking to for a boating school that has teeth, that is meaningful, that has enforced standards, Club Nautique is perhaps the pinnacle. Frustrated with student certification standards, especially for the often dangerous San Francisco environment, Club Nautique Founder and past Director and Vice President of US Sailing Don Durant collaborated with Anthony Sandberg of OCSC to write a rigorous keelboat certification system, which is now governed by US Sailing. Don and Anthony both have their separate US Sailing certification site schools and say the healthy competition has, “stimulated excellence on both their parts.” 

Recently returned from an International Sailing Summit about “Pathways To Sailing,” Durant says that, “even the industry doesn’t seem to know that you do not have to own a boat to go sailing.” Club Nautique is an incubator. Offering a membership program to provide year-round access to a beautiful fleet of offshore-equipped boats. Graduates can take one out “The Gate” on San Francisco Bay once they certify. Club Nautique certifies more US Sailing Coastal Passage Maker graduates than the collective competition by a factor of three through a rigorous program, “way beyond what the standards require.” Durant reminds us that most yacht clubs are racing-centric however, “if you don’t promote the growth of sailing you won’t have anyone to manage the racing.” The sailing community is no longer your father's "pale, stale and male" yacht club scene. It is a very diverse community who is eager to be hands-on, whether racing, cruising or powerboating.

Located in Alameda in the San Francisco Bay area, Durant says, “this is great place for a school, for the very same reason that the America’s Cup is here. We have wind and it is predictable. If someone wants to go somewhere and ‘really learn’ they’re going to get a chance to learn. They are not going to go out and flop around in three knots of breeze.” Get a visual overview at the Club Nautique Boating Album.

With a 25+ year history of educating watermen and waterwomen, Club Nautique offers starter sailboat courses called Basic Keelboat on the Colgate 26’ with tillers and outboard engines, similar to a J80, and Basic Cruising on boats with inboard diesel engines and wheel steering. Advanced courses include Bareboat Cruising on 35-45' sloop-rigged cruising keelboats with wheel steering and inboard diesel power, Coastal Navigation, and Celestial Navigation. Coastal Passage Making is taught along the Central California Coast and qualifies graduates to sail club boats in the ocean and to skipper in the most challenging vacation destinations worldwide, and Offshore Passage Making which is the peak of US SAILING courses and finalizes the skills necessary to confidently cross oceans.
Seminars also include topics such as Advanced Radar and GPS Plotting, Coast Guard Licensing, Diesel Engines, First Aid, Rigging, Heavy Weather, Night Sailing, and Overboard Recovery. Club Nautique also offers US POWERBOATING certification, created using the same standards as the US SAILING program and teaches how to safely, competently and confidently skipper recreational cruising power yachts.

photo courtesy of Rebecca Hinden
Along the vein of access-to-all and considering the future of sailing, Club Nautique also believes one is never too young to start sailing. Long-time Club Nautique Marketing Director Marianne Armand is also on the board of the newly minted Alameda Community Sailing Center with a mission, “ to provide opportunities to participate in sailing and other environmentally friendly activities on San Francisco Bay through access and education.” Based on the vow of "No Child Left Ashore," The Alameda Community Sailing Center just launched its first summer youth program out of Ballena Isle Marina in Alameda. 
photo courtesy of Rebecca Hinden
Marianne explains that, “this summer, 75 kids from Alameda aged 8 to 13 spent a week on the waters of San Francisco Bay learning to sail – an activity they maybe hadn’t dreamed possible.” Liz Felando, the center’s Youth Program Director says, “she was fortunate to learn to sail at her parent’s yacht club as a young girl but that so many of her friends did not have the financial means to join her in what has become her ‘passion.’ Goal setting and leadership skills are incorporated into the sailing lessons and how sailing can have a life-long effect on molding the character of a young student.” To get involved visit SailAlameda.org for more information on schedules, volunteering, and how to donate.

Follow the West Coast Tour on Facebook and Twitter at @USSailing as I go back to school this fall with a visit to the Treasure Island Sailing Center and High School sailing practice in San Diego with some of the top teams in the country.

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