Grand Lake Yacht Club, National Sports Center for the Disabled revive sailing lessons for disabled |

Grand Lake Yacht Club, National Sports Center for the Disabled revive sailing lessons for disabled

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The Grand Lake Yacht Club and the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park are joining forces to offer sailing lessons to special needs students.

Developed out of the newly chartered Grand Lake Yacht Club Foundation, a pilot run of the program took place last week during which five participants were exposed for the first time to the sport.

NSCD Operations Manager Beth Fox said at least one 14-year old student gained a new appreciation for the water activity that does not involve “a motor.”

“I told him, ‘Wind is the motor,'” Fox sad.

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By the end of the trial, the boy was heard saying on the boat, “I really like this sailing thing, this is good,” Fox said.

Twenty-three-year NSCD volunteer and Yacht Club Foundation Coordinator Kevin Cox said the experience was positive, for not only the students, but for the yacht club’s certified sailing instructors.

“The feedback from the instructors is they want this project to go,” Cox said. Instructors Rebecca Ruske, Grant Lynch, Hillary and Emma Harrington and Master U.S. Certified Sailor Vince Camella received training beforehand on special-needs instruction.

Simulations in boats on land were used to familiarize individuals.

Within the day, two of the students progressed to skippering their training vessels on water.

At the end of the session, each child was awarded a certificate of accomplishment and a Grand Lake Yacht Club T-shirt.

“The biggest thing we saw from the NSCD kids was they had smiles,” Cox said. “They were beaming with smiles.”

Such therapeutic recreation helps individuals in other areas of life, Fox said, by learning the processes that go into achieving a determined goal and learning to adjust to new experiences. There are physical gains as well, she said, such as practicing balance and coordination.

The NSCD, with its vast menu of summer and winter programs, aims to expose guests to activities inherent to Colorado.

“Sailing happens to be something people do in Grand County,” Fox said. “We like to offer activities to people with special needs that anyone in Grand County can engage in.”

A Lake Granby sailing program with a larger boat named “Sea Legs” was phased out of the program a few years ago, but Fox says she thinks it’s “time to start sailing again.”

The small “learn-to-sail” boats, or Prams, at the yacht club used in sailing schools are user-friendly, and the NSCD partnership is a good fit for the new foundation’s goals to give back to the community, Cox said.

“The yacht club has done a great deal of work in finding instructors, getting them trained and reaching out for collaboration with NSCD,” Fox said. “We’re so pleased that the community is in support of NSCD and wants to get together and do cool things like this.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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