On the Harbor: The strength of the BCYC Jr. sailing program

By LEN BOSE

There are only a few times in my life where I have used the term “Dream Team” or witnessed it. For me, it was our 2017 Trans Pac Team aboard Horizon, others have included the Miracle on Ice, the 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball team, Team Oracle 2013 America’s Cup comeback, while in other sports the term dynasty is used. It’s been in the making, over the last couple of years, that the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club (BCYC) has now produced a “Dream Team/Dynasty” in Junior Sailing programs within our harbor.

This week I had a chance to interview BCYC junior director Aubrey Mayer. Mayer grew up sailing at the end of Long Island at the Orient Yacht Club and Shelter Island Yacht Club sailing Optimist dinghies, lasers & 420s. In high school, he attended the Milton Academy where he met his mentor Charlie Enright, skipper of TP 52 Morning Light in the 2007 Trans Pac, Volvo Ocean Race skipper on Team Alvimedica and Vestas 11th hour Racing. At Milton, they won the High School Team Racing Championships and World Team Racing Championships in 2002 in England. Mayer attended St. Mary’s College where he competed on the sailing team. He then moved on to the 2005 US Sailing team sailing a 470.

The BCYC Jr. sailing program offers instruction for kids ages 5-17. The Starfish program for youth ages 5-7 includes three accredited teachers, two sailing coaches and a lifeguard. “The teachers provide positive stimulation on land followed up with two sailing coaches that take them on the water while fostering that early love for the harbor and the sport while being around the yacht club,” Mayer said.

(L-R) BCYC’s Aubrey Mayer, Steve Hunt and Christophe Killian

The Novice program is next for ages 8+ with coaches taking care of the kids while teaching them the nuts and bolts of sailing, building confidence for sailing a boat alone.

As the students improve their skills, they move to the Sabot C3 program with lead coach Max Mayol who has achieved many Sabot, Optimist and Laser Radial titles along with High School Keelboat National Championships. Mayol is now sailing at the University of Charleston and has proven to be the perfect person for this job.

Once the students have placed in a C3 Sabot regatta they start moving up into new divisions from C2 through A fleet. BCYC coaching in these divisions includes head coach, Newport Beach Sailing Hall of Fame sailor Mark Gaudio, who won the Jr. Sabot Nationals along with 17 senior sabot nationals; Jake Mayol who is a two-time Sabot Jr. National champion; and Jack Flores, Ryan Simpson and Jack Blackman – all outstanding sailors.

BCYC also offers a 420 racing program with coaches Christophe Killian who grew up near the harbor and was the last local sailor to win the Governor’s Cup and sailed for the College of Charleston. While attending Charleston, Killian won two team racing national championships and two match racing national championships. Teaming up with Killian is Steve Hunt. In 2012, Hunt was named the Sail1 Design Coach of the Year where he highlighted his “Family first, school second, sailing third philosophy,” that he learned at the College of Charleston. Hunt has achieved 11 sailing National Championships and has participated at the highest caliber the sport has to offer.

Thinking about my son, as a parent I asked what can you do for my kid who doesn’t want to compete, yet still wants to go sailing. That’s where the Junior Mariner program fits in with lead coach Berkeley Green and assistant Max Kleha, who is currently the Team Captain on the Mater Dei Sailing Team. The Junior Mariners are focused on seamanship and the love of being on the water. They do destination-type sailing where they will sail to a beach while learning about currents and wind direction.

The quality of the BCYC staff is what separates their programs from the other clubs. “Our staff really cares and makes the extra effort every day,” Mayer shared. Racing results are proving the strength of the staff with very strong results dating back to last season. This year’s Gold Cup BCYC was 1, 2 and 3 in A fleet, 1 and 2 in C2s, 1st and 2nd in C3 and 3rd in C1.

When I asked Mayer where he would like to see the BCYC Jr. program in five years he said, “Just be really effective, all our programs thrive and feed the others. The BCYC program will be noticed around the country for going the extra mile for our students. Our goal is to have people, out of the area, even at their peak want to come to us because we offer the strongest program. We are working hard every day creating a program that people want to take part in and so far, so good...it appears to be working.”

I have to reply “copy to that,” smiling ear to ear while watching my home team grow.

Sea ya!

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Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.