When I heard a new Spring Lake High School team was forming, and they were willing to teach inexperienced sailors like me, I considered joining. To learn more about the sport, I took a butterfly class at the Spring Lake Yacht Club the summer before high school and found out that I really loved sailing. In the spring of my freshman year I got on the team. The best way to learn was by being on the water with an experienced skipper and getting instruction from my coaches and teammates. I caught on quickly. The experience was truly wonderful! A few weeks into the season, I began crewing at regattas. Competing at regattas deepened my knowledge of the sport. We were traveling to amazing yacht clubs, spending weekends out on the water, meeting new people who loved sailing just as much as we did, and making great memories as a team. By the time spring season was over I could not even imagine my life without sailing. With the encouragement of our new friends, my family and I became members of the yacht club and my parents bought me a butterfly sailboat. I spent the summer sailing my butterfly. I raced my boat every weekend and even went to the big regattas like Butterfly Nationals and Westerns. I gained more knowledge from being around my sailing friends and from crewing on big boats with highly skilled sailors. After getting so much tiller time, advice from other sailors, and lots of experience on the water I was ready to take it up a notch in the fall season. Right off the bat I was skippering the 420’s at practice. Once my coach knew I was ready he selected me to be a skipper at a regatta. I enjoyed the competition and continued to improve throughout the season. I’ve had the most amazing experiences of my life!
–Rachel Rantanen, Sophomore, Spring Lake High School
I can’t thank the board enough for all the time and teenager ‘stuff’ you weather in order for these kids to be exposed to the sport of sailing. It has been an incredible experience for my son! Kaleb stepped foot on a sailboat for the first time in his life in September 2012. Meanwhile, during the days of practices and regattas, he has also stepped into self-confidence, leadership, and a ‘no sailor left behind’ team spirit. When I think of how Kaleb’s skipper got knocked out of the boat by the boom and Kaleb didn’t even give it a second thought but, jumped into the cold lake to make sure she was okay, it affirms in every way that he is an important sailor on this TEAM! If it wasn’t Nils, it was one of his stellar ‘fill-ins’. Kaleb would come home from practice or regattas and repeat the coaches’ comments, always positive and skill building! THANK YOU! It is a wonderful program!
-Bonni Norwood, Parent of Kaleb Norwood, Sophomore, Spring Lake High School
I’ve been sailing my whole life. This year I found out that I can actually teach people how to sail. I taught an individual on the team pretty much everything I knew about sailing. When he came out for the team, he had never been on a boat before. I stepped up to the challenge and agreed to teach him everything I know about 420s. By the middle of the season, he was even able to skipper! He had a hard time at first but soon caught on to it. He sailed in a couple regattas then amazingly he went out and won a race! It is rewarding for me to realize that I helped him get started in sailing. Being able to teach others is another reason I love the sport!
-Olivia Windemuller, Sophomore, Spring Lake High School
I’d like to say that sailing did a lot for me. I learned the real power of the wind and how to use it to my advantage. Not only is it physically demanding it’s a workout for my brain too. Sailing in smaller boats has also inspired me to sail on bigger boats on Muskegon Lake during the summer. Our season went well and we won the UK fall series and placed well in a number of other races throughout the season. That definitely taught me a lot about sailing and let me meet a lot of great people. Thank you for showing me this great sport and inspiring me to challenge myself and find out more of what I am capable of doing.
-Max Ingersoll, Junior, Spring Lake High School
I took Kyle up to my family cottage in Canada this past summer. He asked if he could sail the Sunfish sailboat. When I was a kid, I flipped the Sunfish with my neighbor on it and nearly drowned her. So, I was a little apprehensive as the cottage is on Lake Huron and it was very windy that day.
Knowing he had the experience with the sailing team, I cut him loose and stood on the beach and watched. He was doing a great job and was venturing further and further away from shore. Suddenly, when he was way out there, I saw the mast go down. I thought he had flipped it and with the waves being what they were he was going to have a tough time getting it back up. Just as suddenly, I saw the sail pop back up and he was racing back towards shore.
When Kyle returned to the beach, I ran over and asked, “What was that?” Very casually he replied, “Oh that was a roll tack”. I had never heard of a roll tack, but I have to say I was impressed!
-Kris Layson, Father of Kyle Layson, Sophomore, Spring Lake High School
I like being able to make friends from all over the place. I have friends who I talk to almost on a daily basis from all over Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois. It’s fun being able to go to those places too.
-Abby Allman, Junior, Spring Lake High School
Sailing is really cool. I have been on sailboats since I was little, but never raced until the summer of 2012. Next summer I hope to practice on our family’s laser to improve my sailing skills. I hope to sail again with the team in the fall. I have met a ton of friends from sailing!
-Anne Allman, Freshman, Spring Lake High School
Spring lake sailing team has been an absolutely huge part of my life and it is very important to me. It has given me a great group of friends which mean the world to me, hard competition to sail against, and an opportunity to learn life skills which I use every day. I am very thankful for the opportunities the team has given me.
-David Griswold, Sophomore, Mona Shores High School