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[Detroit News masthead]

Classes get boaters ready to sail

By Mary Quinley

Special to the Detroit News

Six years ago, while Bill and Krista Fernimos were celebrating their wedding anniversary in Saint Lucia, they discovered a new love -- sailing.

"I was in awe the first time I sailed," 34-year-old Bill Fernimos says, describing their island sailboat ride.

During the next few years, they continued to enjoy sailing, decided they were hooked on the sport and wanted to learn how to sail.

So, they did.

David Elwood of the U-M Sailing Club takes his sail down after an outing. The club offers classes through late November.

Last month, the Commerce Township couple completed a sailing course that was held at Schoolcraft College and sponsored by the American Sailing Institute.

"After taking the class, I feel absolutely confident that I could sail a 16-footer," Fernimos says. He and his 31-year-old wife plan to enroll in more advanced American Sailing courses. Their goal is to sail a 45-foot catamaran the next time they visit the Virgin Islands.

In addition to courses run by American Sailing, the University of Michigan also offers sailing instruction.

On Tuesday, a sailing clinic will be held at U-M's recreation department. Sailing instructor Carey Jones says the class is primarily for people who have no sailing experience.

Students will be taught in a classroom setting using model sailboats, a large fan and several videos. Discussions will include how to steer the boat, where the wind is relative to the boat, how to position the sails to use the wind, safety procedures and more.

Typically, the spring and fall seasons produce good wind. Some beginning sailors, who attempt the sport in July or August, are discouraged because wind conditions are often less than favorable. Beginners, however, should keep trying, Jones advises.

"The best way to learn to sail is to be on the boat in the water," he says.

Jones encourages his students to attend the Saturday hands-on classes that are held from late April through late November at U-M's Sailing Club. For rate information, visit the University of Michigan's Sailing Club web site at

For information on classes sponsored by the American Sailing Institute, call (248) 624-4030.


©2001 The Detroit News