On Break:

Tying fun into sailing skills

Everyone from a 5-year-old to an adult can learn to sail with city’s classes.

June 30, 2008|By Jack Salisbury

It was a nearly perfect day at the Balboa Bay beach Monday. Lots of sun, but not too hot. The wind stirred a bit, but not too much.

The nearly two dozen 5- to 8-year-old kids at the beach, though, weren’t thinking about sandcastles and boogie boards. They had their attention solidly directed at their sailing teacher.

That’s important because these kids will soon put their lessons to practical use.

“Some of the kids haven’t even been in kindergarten yet,” said sailing instructor Ashley Heptig. “But we get every kid out on the water by the end of the week. Every kid sails. It’s about introducing them to sailing.”


Newport Beach’s Recreation Management Services department is also holding tennis classes for the children enrolled in summer camp through the end of August.

Kids in the program rotate between sailing and tennis based on a 45-minute schedule, ensuring they get a well-rounded experience.

As a whole, as Heptig explained, the instructors are simply doing their best to bring a structured, instructional, but also fun, program to the kids.

“It’s great because it’s not competitive,” she said. “We make games out of everything.”

Morning classes are open to children between the ages of 5 and 8, while classes in the afternoon are for kids between 9 and 17. Saturday classes are also available for adults looking to get experience sailing.

Though sailing is a fairly complicated and skills-based activity, the program attempts to move participants along as slowly and accordingly as possible. The kids are able to apply what they’ve learned at the end of the week when they all participate in a competitive yet friendly regatta.

A schoolteacher during the rest of the year, Heptig is in her fifth year as an instructor for the city. She said she couldn’t spend her summer in a better way.

“These kids want to be here,” Heptig said. “I couldn’t ask for a better summer job.”

Tennis instructor Michael Luu agreed, expressing his appreciation for the chance to teach kids the basics of the sport.

“I just like hanging out with the kids,” he said. “That’s the best part [about the job.]”


What are you looking forward to about boating and sailing?

“The doughnut.”

Bentley Deshautreaux

6, Newport Beach

“Sailing on the water.”

Ella Deshautreaux

6, Newport Beach

“Seeing fish.”

Isabella Palazzo

9, Newport Beach

“When we get splashed by the jumping fish.”

Jack Guenther

6, Corona Del Mar

“Just sailing.”

Lucas Vogel

5, Signal Hill

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles