Sailing with the winds

There are two rules about Orange Coast College's summer sailing program: The first rule is never talk about it because everybody will want to join and the Newport Harbor channel could become clogged with sailboats.

The second rule is: Follow rule No. 1. But it's so hard not to discuss the program.

It's so cheap, and the OCC School for Sailing and Seamanship is so well regarded that it's hard to pass over when deciding what sorts of fun you want your children to have this summer. At least a dozen children between the ages of 7 and 15 were out in full force Wednesday, their third day in a two-week sailing program that costs $250 and consists of sailing four hours Mondays through Thursdays. That brings the grand total of time on the water to 32 hours.

While they're not exactly going to embark on an around-the-world sailing trip that some teenagers are prone to these days, they did learn a few essentials.

"Never sail into the wind," says Maile Raventos, already a seasoned pro at the age of 10. She and her twin brother, Jack, let the sails unfurl under the direction and vigil of Garrett Laudenback, an OCC sailing instructor for the summer.

"Kids are so fun to teach, and they're always asking the funniest questions," Laudenback says after the class. "But they actually learn faster than adults. They pick up the terminology easier, kind of like how people say it's easier to learn another language. Well, it's sort of true."

So on Wednesday, the children could hardly contain their collective enthusiasm as they barked out words that are fast becoming a part of their regular vocabulary: bow, stern, mast, starboard. They're also getting acquainted with the art of sailing, which is pretty much just let the chips fall where they may and let the sails fly. And always make sure you're at a 45-degree angle with the wind.

"When your bow is headed straight into the wind, then the mast luffs – sort of how like a flag flaps when there's no wind," says Anne Marie, a former sailing instructor, painting a more accurate picture.

Some of the children sailing in the 14-foot Lido sailboats came from the Inland Empire and Central Valley.

"I love sailing," says Seven Pappanastos, 10, of Redlands. "We learned everything we needed to know on the first day."

Seven says said his family might move to Newport Beach, a reason he was out on the water. As for Natalie Piskova-Pentschev, 12, of Madera, the two-week program is part of her summer vacation, something she and her parents planned a long time ago. Joe Raventos, a proud father in Newport Beach, looked on from a distance. He wanted his twins to learn the way he learned.

"It's such a beautiful thing to experience," says Raventos, a software engineer. "It's always added to my life, to be able to sail to Catalina Island when we were kids."

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