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The Indian Rocks Opti Team returning to Clearwater Yacht Club after sailing at the Carlisle Regatta in 2014.

International dissolved, and the Clearwater Yacht Club moved several blocks south to Bayway Boulevard. However, the yacht club’s sailing activities in general—and its junior program in particular—flourished, and it became almost a headquarters for youth sailing. But I digress. This story is not about the history of the Opti. It is about two youth programs that were started primarily because one church’s pastor loved to sail. The other church has a layman at the helm. Bob Wagenseil, known to many even outside of his church as Father Bob, had been a priest on Long Island, NY. He accepted the call as rector at Calvary, which has a small basin behind the church, and then sailed his boat to the Indian Rocks area in September 1995. Shortly after he arrived, the new rector joined the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District as he looked for another way to serve

the community. Then he got the idea of a youth sailing program. With support from his church, the fire district and a dedicated group of local business and civic leaders, Wagenseil launched his program during the winter of 200001. Calvary Episcopal’s vestry (governing body) agreed to rebuild the dock out back, and several people donated six Walker Bay vessels, which can be rowed or sailed. By summer, he was ready to go. Calvary’s first learn-to-sail program had only morning sessions for two weeks. Fifteen youngsters, ranging in age from 9 to 12, showed up. Everything was donated and all the instructors were volunteers, but they even had a graduation ceremony for the kids. During the next summer, Calvary added an afternoon session. Youngsters could come either mornings or afternoons until 2006, when the church added a second two-week session. By then, the program was so popular that the word had spread, and registration for the summer sessions was full by December. “We got good publicity in the area papers,” Wagenseil explained. “But we never tried to handle more than 25 kids. “Our junior leader program enables returning campers to serve as mentors to younger first-year campers by applying for volunteer assignments such as boatswains,

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December 2017

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Southwinds December 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds December 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...