The Ludington Youth Sailing School is set to begin its ninth season of teaching area youths the basics of how to sail, and general boat handling along with water safety skills.
The summer sailing classes begin on Monday, according to co-director Andy Klevorn, who is working in conjunction with program founder Gary Ferguson.
On Tuesday, Ferguson, Klevorn and several sailing instructors were on hand to get the sailing school property ready for Monday’s first sailing group of the summer season.
The sailing school is located just west of the Ludington Yacht Club, which is located at 80 Second St., on the peninsula.
This year the sailing school will be offering new equipment for kids, including a fleet of 10 new Sunfish sailboats.
Of the 10 new Sunfish, six were purchased through a collaboration between the sailing school and Ludington Area Schools. Klevorn said six of those Sunfish were used at the sailing school last year along with used for O.J. DeJonge Middle School’s eighth-grade camp last fall.
The other four were purchased through a grant from the Pennies From Heaven Foundation.
The sailing school also received a grant from the Community Foundation for Mason County for $7,000 to purchase a dinghy, a new motor, floating docks and sand to landscape the property.
Klevorn also noted a donation of a Sunfish from a cottager from Epworth Heights.
“It really takes a village to get this program up and running every year,” Klevorn said. “Everybody has been really gracious about the sailing school around the lake. People around the lake think this program is important.”
Outside of all of the updates on land making it more accessible and the fleet of new boats, the school will be offering the kids a chance to sail on a larger boat. Area sailboat owners have donated their time to take the kids out on the water to get an idea of what sailing is like on a much larger scale.
That opportunity, according to Klevorn, would come on Fridays if the weather cooperates.
Klevorn said the sailing school will have six full-time instructors plus Andy Hamilton who runs the day-to-day operations of the sailing school.
Klevorn said things are looking great for this upcoming season.
“We have 104 kids signed up for the season right now,” he said. “Last year at this time we had 40.”
There were 116 students last season in total and we already have 104 registered as of today, according to Klevorn.
“In a standard year, we have to figure out how to find probably $25,000,” Ferguson said.
The majority of the money raised to run the sailing school does not come just from the registration fee. It also comes from fundraisers, the Tuesday dinner at the yacht club with “Ferg Burgs” — hamburgers named after Ferguson — on the menu, and donations made by people throughout the year.
“Yacht club members and others donate $150 to fund the supplies for the dinner and all of the proceeds from the dinner go towards the sailing school,” Klevorn said. “We raise about $10,000 to 12,000 from ‘Ferg Burgs.’”
Registration is still going on and there is still some availability, but sessions are filling up fast. To register go to www,ludingtonyouthsailingschool.com/index.php/register-now.