One of the first signs that summer is ending came Aug. 5 when the Gull Lake Sailing School lowered the mast on another season.
By all measurements except the weather it was a great summer. Thirty-three students, some from as far away as Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Russia, learned how to sail. Classes were added for 6- to 8-year-olds and adults. Two new coaches joined the staff. Had the weather been more summer-like it would have been the perfect season.
"It started out cold and windy, then it was gray and windy," said Tyler Dunphy, who has taught sailing at the school for eight years. "We had one perfect week with 10 mile-an-hour winds and 75 degrees. We haven't had any rain days. A couple light drifters, but this time of year you expect that."
Added Cheryl Cote, school director, "It's good for the kids to learn in less-than-perfect conditions. We had a fun regatta and there was no wind. But the kids knew how to sail in those conditions and they could compete."
The highlight of the summer was a new one-week class for 6- to 8-year-olds. In the past the youngest students were 11 and had class for two weeks. Younger kids learned how to sail without being overwhelmed.
"It was very well received," Cote said. "We had eight kids the first week, which is a good turnout for the first time. We wanted to get to the youngest kids before they get involved in other sports."
Joining Tyler Dunphy for her sixth summer of coaching was his sister, Natalie Dunphy. Andrew Cote returned for his second year while Alex Cote and Gabby Driessen came on board as rookie coaches and worked mostly with the youngest sailors. But all of the coaches worked with all of the students at some point during the summer.
Next summer students in the Gull Lake school might compete against students in other schools, Cote said. Gabby Driessen led the way in July when she competed in a race at Clear Lake, Iowa, where she placed 49th among 57 racers.
"That's really good," Cote said. "She was competing against the top boats in the Midwest."
The Gull Lake school also plans to offer club races next year on Saturdays in June, July and August. Sailing schools at Camp Lincoln and Camp Hubert have said they'll send over racers. Adults would be welcome, too.
"We'd love to see anybody who has a sailboat and would like to race," Cote said.
This past week the school handed out its annual "Most Improved" award, which went to Natalia Driessen. Luke Surma and Alex Driessen tied for first place in the Optimist race at the Anderson Cup Regatta on July 17. At the other club race, the annual Youth Regatta, Natalia Driessen and Sam Anderson won the X-boat race, Luke Surma and Alex Driessen teamed up to win the 420 race, and Nick Driessen won the Optimist race.
For more information on the Gull Lake Sailing School, phone 829-0508.
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