Newly-expanded youth sailing program sets record for new sailors

Young sailors set off along Gore Bay’s shore during the Little Current Yacht Club’s Learn to Sail program’s Gore Bay school session. photo by Bryce Mastelko

Prolific pre-teen pinnace pedagogy programs prove popular

MANITOULIN – This year’s expanded slate of sailing lesson locations proved to be popular among young sailors across Manitoulin Island, based on the numbers shared by the program’s instructor.

“We’ve done classes in Gore Bay in prior years and decided to go back starting last year. This year, we had a massive expansion—we had 15 (student sailors) in the group. Last year was maybe five,” said Little Current Yacht Club CANSail instructor Bryce Mastelko. He has been running these courses for four years now.

New locations for 2019 were Mindemoya and Manitowaning. These were added due to demand from last year’s participating families who found closer locations useful for managing their other activities such as getting to work on time. A total of 48 youths took part in this year’s offerings, some for multiple weeks.

“This summer, we had our highest numbers ever,” said Mr. Mastelko. “There was a lot of better sailors; a lot of people who were there because they wanted to be there.”

One of the events this season was a race evening in Little Current that saw experienced sailing program graduates returning to hang out with the current students and compete either with or against the students.

“Being able to do that really helped in terms of the new students, they could get to know the people who did this before,” he said.

That race event brought the closest finish Mr. Mastelko has ever seen between two boats. One craft was helmed by two first-year sailors and the other boat was a second-year and first-year sailor team.

“They crossed the finish line of the second lap a foot apart, which caused a bit of an argument after. They were neck-and-neck for the entire race,” said Mr. Mastelko.

For the 2020 summer season, Mr. Mastelko said he was hoping to offer expanded course offerings. He said he would be taking additional courses in Sudbury to expand his own certifications in order to offer CANSail level 3 and 4 courses, beyond the current offerings of a basic introduction and CANSail levels 1 and 2.

Another element for next year he is trying to secure is having a slightly bigger dinghy available to increase the challenge level for students. 

Mr. Mastelko is showing no signs of slowing at this point and is only building up the offerings for next season.

“It’s because of the support from the communities and towns we visited that we were able to make this such a success. It was really them, the people who wanted to sail and their parents who helped us out this year,” said Mr. Mastelko.

More information about the Little Current Yacht Club’s Island-wide offerings for next season can be had by emailing or visiting