The mission of the Darien Junior Sailing Program is to provide a safe, fun and empowering learning environment in which to develop the skills required for sailing; to promote personal growth and independence within the sport, to achieve proficient levels
Darien Times, The (CT) - Thursday, July 29, 2010
After 31 seasons, the Darien Junior Sailing Team (DJST) program is still thriving at its Weed Beach home base.
The DJST began year No. 32 on June 22.
What started in 1978 as an answer to area yacht clubs that had wait lists for junior sailing, DJST has grown into a program with high standards that is congruent with its area yacht club counterparts.
Spurring DJSTs ascent was its ability to join, nine years ago, the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound (JSA) - an umbrella organization of sailing organizations within the area that also sanctions regattas all summer long.
This is a unique credential for DJST considering it is the only organization within JSA that's not actually a yacht club according to someone close to the team.
"Instead, it's an all-volunteer, community-based sailing program with a philosophy that sailing is not just about kids having a great time on the Long Island Sound," they continued.
"It should also be about teamwork, making good decisions and personal growth - learning experiences that DJST believes should last a lifetime." DJST offers programs for the novice to advanced level junior sailors in Optimist sailboats for sailors 8-14 years of age and Club 420's for high school age sailors. In addition to the Optimist and Club 420 traditional skills-based programs, DJST has a separate racing program that includes two sessions of regatta squads in both classes that build on the advanced racing techniques and strategies in a concentrated competitive environment.
Experienced instructors engage local yacht clubs in scrimmages in preparation for JSA regattas on the Sound.
Benefits of the DJST program include first and foremost, the excellent instruction.
These top-notch individuals receive JSA-led training, in addition to level one and/or two certification from U.S. Sailing. Many of the instructors also have years of previous sailing and competitive racing time out on the Sound and Eastern seaboard.
DJST provides flexibility for sailors who wish to participate in other summer activities in the area.
For example, two sessions are offered during the summer, with the last session ending in early Aug. to enable sailors' families to continue forward with other summer plans.
But when it comes to learning to sail, DJST instructors are kid-focused and know how to have fun - firmly distinguishing them from a stricter yacht club environment.
"They also understand how to provide an empowering learning atmosphere in which to develop the skills required for sailing - all while creating an enjoyable experience of sailing safely," a program spokesperson said.
DJST is a community organization run by 100% parent volunteers, which helps keep costs down (only instructors are paid), according to the organization.
Sailing and racing experience can be acquired by sailors who reside in Darien without annual membership fees. The season ends Aug. 6.
For more information, visit the DJST site at sail.darien.org or email
Caption: TIME AND AGAIN - On the beach, Darien Junior Sailing Team boats and crew prepare to join others already on the water in a scene repeated for the 32nd time in as many years. For going-on 32 years Darien's junior sailors have been learning the ways of the sea and Sound.