Annapolis Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing program is known in the Annapolis area for its prestige in coaching and sailboat racing, and it seems this reputation has reached far beyond the Chesapeake Bay. This summer, AYC is hosting kids from yacht clubs in California, Maine, the Long Island Sound, New Jersey, and Catalonia, Spain.
“This is the first time that we’ve done something like this,” explains Sailing Director Joel Labuzetta of the international sailors. “We’re hoping that it will start an exchange program that will continue for years.”
After spending several years teaching English in Barcelona, Eastern Shore resident and Optimist sailing coach Sarah Morgan was eager to share her experience on the Chesapeake Bay with some of her students. She contacted Joel in January of this year and worked with Optimist Head Coach Tomás Ruiz de Luque in the following months to coordinate the exchange.
“It seemed like a no-brainer,” explains Labuzetta, “and it was the time Tomás and Sara put into coordinating with parents and finding boats that made it possible.” Annapolis Yacht Club had the facilities, necessary equipment, and staff to host international sailors who are paying participants in the summer program. AYC provided three Optimist dinghies and parents of Junior Fleet sailors lent another two Optis to the program as well as volunteered to host the kids during their stay. In addition to being world recognized Optimist sailors, AYC’s head coach Tomás Ruiz de Luque and assistant Opti coach Edgar Diminich are native Spanish speakers from Argentina and Ecuador, respectively. “Not only were we able to accommodate these kids, they’re good sailors so they’re helping our kids, too,” Labuzetta says.
Regardless of skill, any opportunity for young kids to spend time with peers from other cultures and countries is a valuable way to enrich their view of the world.