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COVID-19 takes wind out of sails for yacht club’s junior sailor program

As wind gusts and waves kicked up on County shores Monday, the yacht club’s junior sailing program director Robert Quaiff announced the cancellation of this summer’s program.

The decision, he said, was difficult as the program soared last summer from a risk of folding to full to capacity with more than 120 participants.

“After record numbers last year my decision was a tough one,” said Quaiff. “However with this COVID 19 pandemic, I will not put health and well being at risk for our instructors or junior sailors.”

As of Monday, the Hastings Prince Edward Public Health has recorded 26 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19. The reported ‘probable’ cases have been going down since April 9 – to 264, from 275.

Quaiff, former Prince Edward County Mayor, was approached last winter to take over the junior program through the Prince Edward County Yacht Club, or it would be closed after more than 40 years.

Quaiff dropped anchor to become director and rigged up partnerships within the  community and received several generous donations toward the program and a new boat added to the fleet.

“County businessman Micheal Hymus gave us $10,000 last year and a business partner of his sponsored 10 children who normally wouldn’t be able to attend,” Quaiff said, adding that this year Hymus had pledged to sponsor 30 children.

In the end, the 2019 season was a record year with 124 participants.

“The camp teaches children how to sail, how to rig sail boats, interact with others, and it teaches them about the wind, water and the environment,” said Quaiff.

Camp participants range in age from 10 to 18, many with no previous experience. They take to the water at Waupoos Marina during July and August with instructors who are Sail Canada trained and certified. Young sailors learn basic boat handling and sailing skills, safety on the water, knot tying, basic terminology and rigging techniques.

“Seeing the kids enjoy being on the water brought back all my memories of growing up in Waupoos near the water I’ve loved all my life,” said Quaiff. “I’ve sailed since 2001 and the peace and tranquility it brings is amazing. We will be back next year.”

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