Friday, August 24, 2012

West End Racing Club Teaches PTown Kids and Visitors to Swim and Sail Safely

Kids splashing in the harbor at the West End Racing Club
For about 60 years the West End Racing Club has offered kids from 8 to 16 years of age the chance, and the place, to learn to swim and sail.
When a bunch of kids, all aspiring sailors, began regularly turning up on "Flyer's Beach"
in 1950, a group of parents soon realized the need for not only more sailboats to accommodate the growing number of young sailors, but also for a real club house where they could gather.
Local painters and sculptors were tapped to provide artwork as prizes for raffles that would eventually raise the money to buy the waterfront property at 87 Commercial Street. Boat kits were purchased and fathers of some of the children spent a couple of winters building small sailboats called "weasels" as construction was begun on the club house.
A non-profit organization was formed with the goal of providing Provincetown kids "an opportunity to learn how to sail and enrich their lives with nautical knowledge and experience." Soon five "Blue Jays" were built to augment the fleet of small sailboats available to the kids. "Flyer" Santos and many others were instrumental in starting and running the organization.
Richard Santos became the first beach counselor, establishing regular hours at the new West End Racing Club, living up to its name as races were held several days out of the week, as allowed by the weather and the tides. To participate, kids have to first be able to swim, and that is sometimes the first skill that has to be mastered. Knot tying is also an essential skill kids will learn in the summer program, and kids who are visiting Provincetown during the summer are welcome to join in as well. A registration fee is collected, giving kids access to instruction and the use of equipment for the entire summer season.
Most of the boats used here these days are Sunfish, with very colorful sails, and it is a great sight to see these young sailors zipping back and forth, navigating around each other out in the harbor. Kids are paired two to a boat, and can often learn as much from each other while they are sailing as they learn from their instructors. So when you are assaulted on the street by a group of bubbly, excited kids selling raffle tickets, or when you walk by the old Firehouse near Town Hall and find it is the Racing Club's turn in the booth, fork over a few bucks for a couple of raffle tickets. You may win a nice dinner in a PTown restaurant, or a piece of work by a Provincetown artist, or any number of other possible prizes, and at the very least you'll be helping our kids to continue a great Provincetown tradition while learning to swim and sail safely. Get yourself a West End Racing Club Tee-shirt, and proudly wear a very cool symbol of your support for the youth of Provincetown. 

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