TRAVERSE CITY — Any Grand Traverse sailor who knows his jib from a jibe likely owes a debt of thanks to a member of Traverse Area Community Sailing. The nonprofit organization that offers sailing instruction for all ages and abilities is kicking off its 20th season today by celebrating the milestone from noon to 3 p.m. at the Cornwell Sailing Center on Boardman Lake.
“West Grand Traverse Bay, with its very dependable north-northwest breeze, is recognized worldwide as a premier sailing venue. We want people to get out and enjoy it,” said TACS member Louis Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who sails his own 19-foot Interlake, said TACS offers a youth learn-to-sail program; adult learn-to-sail lessons; and adaptive sailing instruction geared for people with disabilities. Classes range from the basics up to handling and racing larger boats on the bay.
He said the organization’s teaching goals are to get people comfortable in a safe boating setting, and teach basic safety and efficient operating techniques. After learning basics, students can fine-tune their skills in an advanced beginner class in which they can learn more about recreational sailing or racing.
“We’ve recently partnered with Bay Breeze Yacht Charters and Sailing School on West Bay where adult students can continue to learn on 20- to 25-foot boats,” he said.
The nonprofit was formed in 1994 by a group of sailors, including James Menzies, who were concerned that sailing interest was on the wane. Menzies, who enjoys sailing his 40-foot C&C sailboat on Grand Traverse Bay, recalls how the organization got its start.
“The city let us use Boardman Lake. We brought in an old bus for an office, borrowed some boats, and we went sailing. Our organization started out with 34 students that first year. Last year all our programs combined served 442 students,” he said.