ASF Develops New Sailors

Page Keppel is high on sailing, learning in the ASF Opti class. Photo: Scott Keppel

Presley Keppel’s grandparents live in Seal Beach, California, and belong to Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. Her dad Scott says, “Every time we go to California she wants to go sailing. We asked if she wanted to try an Opti 1 class and she yelled ‘Yes!’ She loved Opti 1 and will be doing the next class in the spring.”

The Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) has been introducing young and not-so-young sailors to the game for over 15 years. This fall, the Opti I program for kids was sold out, with 10 children trying out the Optimist 8-foot boats, guided by instructor Natalie Harper.

Natalie picked up the program after the departure of originators Kathleen and Dan Buckstaff, who did so much to get it going. Now Natalie has told the ASF board that after the spring class she’ll need to pass it on to someone new, since she’s won a promotion at work that will require her weekends. Natalie has done a brilliant job, so it’s a big hole to fill. If you or someone you know might be a good candidate for the volunteer position, please contact ASF President Cindy Pillote.

Momma and Ducklings. The Opti I class follows the safety boat. Photo: Scott Keppel

The wind was too strong for sailing, so it was chalkboard time. Photo: Scott Keppel

Presley and Page: new Opti friends. Photo: Scott Kappel


High School Championship 2018

Tempe Town Lake offered five high school sailors its best mix of twists, turns, puffs, and lulls Saturday (5/5), as they competed in a close-fought contest to pick the year’s high school champion. The five competed in Lasers this year, running windward-leeward races to the east.

After one of the round-robin boats turned out to be taking on water (that’s slow!), the organizers considered various ways of offering redress to people using the slow boat. In the end, they determined that there should be a tie between Ian Altobelli and Bella Hutchinson, with Jude Brauer in third.

Mike Parker headed up the high school class this year, with able help from Dick Krebill, George Tingom and Larry Green. Andy Oliver was the PRO for the champ race, Katherine Roxlo, Joel Hurley, Cindy Pillote, Erika Parker and others helping out.

The High School Championship competitors 2018: Alex Baros, Ashley Baros, Bella Hutchinson, Ian Altobelli, Jude Brauer. Photo: Mike Ferring

Here’s a slide show of photos by Mike Ferring:

August Meeting: The Future of Sailing

Launching the Opti. Photo: Mike Ferring

What is the future of sailing? I think we can agree the answer lies with the kids trimming the sails at an ASF Opti I class and their older brothers and sisters in Bics, Lasers, and anything else that sails to the wind.

What draws them to sailing when the competition is a fast-moving massive multi-player online game?

In August, we’ll find out what Colin Gibbs and Cedric Lorch think the answer is. We’ll hear from them and from dad Rob Gibbs and others who are putting together sailing programs for kids. This fall, the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) will launch a racing program for juniors, mostly in Bic O’Pens, and put them on the Tempe Town Lake race course at the same time as the adults. Can sailboat racing hold its own with the latest app?

The meeting is Tuesday, August 8, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Register Now for Sailing Classes

Registration is open now for the fall Arizona Sailing Foundation sailing classes. Click on Arizona Sailing Foundation Education in the navigation bar at the top of any AYC web page and then select the type of class you’d like to take.

With Tempe Town Lake back in business, the full offering of classes will be available there, including Adult Beginning Sailing, Opti 1&2 for kids, Junior Performance Sailing in the O’Pen Bics, and High School Sailing on Tuesday afternoons. All classes are led by US Sailing-certified instructors and each of these classes will accept students who have never sailed before.

If you have questions about the courses, contact Mike Ferring, who can either answer your question or direct you to someone who can.


Two Adult Beginning Sailing students sailing with instructor Emory Heisler. initially all students in the class sail with an instructor, with two students to each instructor. Later the students will sail two in a boat with the instructor watching from a safety boat.

Wilson Davis Will Compete at a US Sailing Junior Olympic Clinic and Regatta

Wilson Davis

Wilson Davis

Wilson Davis will compete at the Rochester Yacht Club at Lake Ontario, New York, representing Arizona Yacht Club. Surprisingly, Wilson’s father Dennis says Wilson will be the only US entrant, with everybody else coming from Canada. It all happens between July 31 and August 2.

US Sailing has been setting up the events at various places throughout the country, combining competition with high-level training for young sailors. Here’s more on the program.  And here’s more on the event. And here’s a video from US Sailing:


Cedric Lorch Repeats as High School Champion

High School coach George Tingom presents winning trophies to Madison Cordova and Cedric Lorch.

High School coach George Tingom presents winning trophies to Madison Cordova and Cedric Lorch.

He did it again. After the finish of the seventh race of the 2014 Arizona State High School Sailing Championship, the clear winners were skipper Cedric Lorch from Valley Lutheran HS and crew Madison Cordova from Veritas Preparatory Academy. Last year, Cedric teamed with Mitchell Wenger to win the 2013 championship.

The wind and temperature (4/19) were perfect for sailing this year, made even more interesting by wind shifts that helped the winning boats rise to the top.

Cedric and Madison swept the competition, and of the five boats racing, only the team of Wilson Davis and Peter Blake were able to break their string of victories. Bharath Tata and Jake Xu were very consistent, putting up five second place finishes to finish second for the day.

Race committee chairman, high school sailing coach, and instructor George Tingom said that this year’s event was by far the most enjoyable so far, both for the contestants and the crowd cheering from under the blue canvas shade along the north shore.

Strong wind pushed the High School Championship to seven races.

Strong wind pushed the High School Championship to seven races.

“We could have declared a winner early,” he said, “but the wind was very nice and all the kids were having fun. Three of the seven races were three times around using all of the distance allowed in the East Basin of Tempe Town Lake.

Said George, “We have a fantastic core of volunteers that without doubt will make this event a strong foundation for high school sailing in the state of Arizona. We’re hopeful of fielding a bigger turnout for next year’s race on Saturday April 18, 2015.”

The class portrait of the 2014 High School Championship competitors.

The class portrait of the 2014 High School Championship competitors.

Final – Corrected Results after one throw-out
1st Place 6 Points – (Cedric Lorch / Madison Cordova)
2nd Place 14 Points – (Bharath Tata / Jake Xu)
3rd Place 17 Points (Wilson Davis / Peter Blake)
4th Place 22 Points (Alec Arthur / Daniel Moore)
5th Place 24 Points (Ema Davis / Daniel Mobley)

Spring ASF Classes Coming Soon to a Lake Near You

The spring salvo of Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) classes fires off soon: Kids’ classes beginning February 9 and the adult Learn to Sail class on February 15. High school classes are already underway.

Kids getting ready for Opti action.

Kids getting ready for Opti action.

The line-up includes two Opti classes for young sailors, an Opti I and Opti II. Those are joined this spring by the Junior Performance Racing Class, sailed in the new O’Pen Bic boats. That class is already full, but there’s still some room in the Opti classes. Sign up here.

If you know someone who’s always wanted to try sailing, the adult Learn to Sail class is just the ticket. Starting from “where’s the wind?” and progressing through tacks and jibes and capsize recovery and much more, the students graduate ready to handle a dinghy. There’s this most exciting part: they begin sailing on their very first day. No extended book time for these people. It’s a speedy trip from “here’s a boat” to “trim in and let’s go”!

More information and registration button here.


Magical, Mystical Opti Class

The Opti group, getting ready to sail. Photo: Mark Howell

The Opti group, getting ready to sail. Photos: Mark Howell

Mark Howell was watching and listening as 9 kids and 9 Opti sailboats lined up on the plastic dock at Tempe Town Lake last Sunday afternoon.

Actually, he called it eavesdropping and this is what he heard about sailing theory:

  1. Hang on to the tiller and the mainsheet.
  2. Sit on the opposite side of the boat from the sail.

Then, he said, “they pushed them off the dock one by one, and they were sailing.  Magic.”

Let’s hope it’s the first sail of a lifetime of sailing fun.OptiDock

And then they pushed off and sailed.

And then they pushed off and sailed.

Wilson Davis to Compete in O’Pen Bic at America’s Cup

Wilson Davis has been chosen to be one of 20 Top Junior Sailors to sail immediately following AC72 races of the Louis Vuitton (Challenger) finals Saturday and Sunday August 17th and 18th in San Francisco in the O’pen Bic Hi-Wind Sailing Slalom Challenge.

Wilson will be representing the Arizona Yacht Club and Arizona Sailing Foundation. At age 11, Wilson is the youngest competitor of the 20 qualified sailors by a year and the only sailor from Arizona.

Competitors will be coming from: New Zealand, Hawaii, Florida, San Diego, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Sweden to name a few. Wilson’s helmet will proudly display logos of Arizona and the Arizona Yacht Club.

Wilson is currently a 6th grader at Veritas Preparatory Academy. We’re told that after Wilson comes back from the America’s Cup he’ll need a larger helmet, a secretary, and a limo driver. Good luck, Wilson.

By Philip Freedman

Wilson Davis aboard the O’Pen Bic.

Exciting New Sport Boat for ASF Intermediate Sailors

Gerald Byrnes tries out the new O'pen Bic on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Phil Freedman

Gerald Byrnes tries out the new O’pen Bic on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Phil Freedman

The Arizona Sailing Foundation has bought four new O’pen Bic sport boats for Junior ASF sailors.

ASF president George Tingom says the boats will fill a need to offer a high performance alternative to the Optis for young sailors who have topped out and are looking for something faster and sportier.

The name is a play on the name of the product we all know—the ubiquitous Bic ballpoint pen. But the boat is a play on the new shape of sailing—high performance.

It’s thermoformed polyethylene and rotomolded construction with full roach, fully-battened, clear mylar mainsail. With an open transom, there’s none of that Opti bailing stuff if the boat takes on water.

The O’pen is an international one-design class and you can tell from the promotional video that kids really enjoy them.

Gary Jobson Picks Former AYC Junior as One of Eight All-Stars

Each year Gary Jobson scours the country for the top young sailors and gives them recognition in his Sailing World column, shining a light on what he calls All-Star finalists. And this year, he picked a former Arizona Yacht Club Junior sailor.

Scott Buckstaff just turned 18, but most of us remember him as a promising Opti sailor, guided by his talented sailing parents, Dan and Kathleen Buckstaff. The family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area a few years ago and Scott continued to sail. Did he ever!

Gary Jobson notes that last year Scott won the U.S. Youth Sailing Championship in the 29er class with crew James Moody. Besides his skiff sailing, Scott has been sailing on keel boats and this last summer served as tactician aboard the J/90 Ragtime and won the YRA of San Francisco Champion of Champions Regatta.

In his spare time, says Jobson, Scott mountain bikes and trains for triathalons.

Dan and Kathleen were instrumental in gearing up the Arizona Sailing Foundation’s Junior Program, helping acquire a fleet of Optis, setting the curriculum and building excitement for the program, even taking the kids to national competitions. Scott’s success shows where a program like that can lead.

Isabel Love Wins ASF-AYC Scholarship

Isabel Love’s successful AYC-ASF scholarship application.

Isabel Love will be sailing an ASF Opti class this fall, setting out on a lifetime of sailing that she says may one day see her sailing around the world. When you’re 8 years old, the entire world is open to you.

Isabel will receive $50 toward the tuition of the ASF class as part of a scholarship program for AYC members. She submitted one of the best applications we’ve ever seen, the essay and picture reproduced here.

If your child would like to learn to sail, consider ASF and remember the scholarship: here’s the link to the application. You’ll find more information on the education page.

High School Sailing Champs: Luke Marino and Jack Griffin

2012 High School Champions Jack Griffin and Luke Marino

Luke Marino and Jack Griffin slipped past last year’s champs to grab this year’s High School Sailing Championship, held at Tempe Town Lake Saturday, April 21.

After three light-air races in the morning, last year’s winning team of Alexia Lorch and Scott Soethe were just two points behind Luke and Jack. After a lunch break, the wind picked up and everyone headed out for one more deciding race. Luke and Jack won, sealing the championship.

Luke is a Washington High School student in Arizona’s Glendale district. And Jack is a student at Ward Traditional Academy in Tempe. They were awarded a perpetual trophy that they can display at their schools and were given individual trophies to keep.

The high school championship is run by the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) and was organized by George Tingom. The Principal Race Officer was Arizona State University student Gerald Byrnes.

While the championship isn’t limited to students who participate in ASF’s Tuesday after-school sailing class, both Luke and Jack are in the program. Three years ago, Jack also won the most improved junior sailor award as part of the ASF Opti Program.

Information on the ASF high school class is available here.

George is already planning the next championship and says that unless a special Tempe event forces a date change, the event will happen Saturday, April 15, 2013.


Roll Tack with Anna Tunnacliffe

Want to know how to roll-tack a Laser? Tony Eanes did. And when Anna Tunnacliffe visited the ASF high school program, Tony asked her to show the students how to do it.

In light air, Anna went through the steps below while the students watched and Mike Ferring snapped a sequence of pictures. Just do it this way!

To see a roll tack in video, try this. Anna’s roll tacks are faster and more powerful, but the mechanics are the same.

Step one: heel the boat to windward (All photos: Mike Ferring)

Step two: WAY to windward.

Step three: tack

Step four: when the boat is about to capsize, time to bring it back up

Step five: Plant it!

Step six: using all your strength and weight

Step seven: trim in sail and sail on (faster than when you entered the turn)

Arizona High School Sailing Championship

The Fourth Annual Arizona High School Sailing Championship is scheduled to be held on 21 April 2012 at Tempe Town Lake.

Last year Alexia Lorch won and her crew was Scott Soethe.  She is was junior at Xavier College Preparatory and Scott was a student at Brophy College Preparatory.  A perpetual trophy to display at the school of the skipper for half the time until next years race (the other half of the time to be displayed at the school of the crew) was presented after the races.  Individual trophies were presented for the winners to keep.

This year’s competition promises to be great.  For more information and to get your race documents visit this link:

AZ High School Sailing Championship & ASF Picnic

The third double handed (two person) sailing championship was held in the east basin of Tempe Town Lake on Saturday April 16th 2011.  Parents and friends cheered on their favorite sailors from the blue shade umbrellas on the north shore (just below the east basin condo development).

Alexia Lorch won with crew Scott Soethe.  Alexia is a junior at Xavier College Preparatory and Scott attends Brophy College Preparatory.  A perpetual trophy to display at the school of the skipper for half the time until next years race (the other half of the time to be displayed at the school of the crew) was presented after the races.  Individual trophies were presented for the winners to keep.

Four boats sailed with eight students on board.  The last two years had six boats racing in the championship.  We hope to have more than six in 2012.  Two races were held in the morning with very light wind.  A one hour lunch break was taken before three twice around races in freshening afternoon breeze (6-8 MPH).  Three different boats scored first place finishes.  There was a chance for a lead change in the last race, but Alexia and Scott managed to hold off the competition in variable strength wind that was changing direction frequently. 

FYI for next year….the race is NOT LIMITED TO ASF HS SAILING CLASS STUDENTS, however we’re pleased to note that this year’s winner was a student in 2010.

Information about High School Sailing Classes is available at

There are decorative blue shade umbrellas on the north shore (just below the east basin condo development) where many parents and siblings cheered.

As of now, unless some special Tempe event forces a date change, the 2012 championship will be held on Saturday April 22nd 2012.

AFTER THE RACING… was time to PIG OUT!   The Arizona Sailing Foundation and Arizona Yacht Club joined together for a very nice Spring Picnic.  High School Sailing Championship participants, Start Sailing Right spring class students and a menagerie of AYC members, families and friends enjoyed an afternoon of sun and sailing on the “Grassy Knoll”. 

Many thanks to ASF Board President John Mayall and his picnic team: Rick Lake, “Pig Master”, Dave Christensen, “Grill Master”, and Lisa Lake, Wendy Larsen and a host of other helping hands!  Congratulations to ASF for ending the spring season in excellent fashion!

ASF-AYC Picnic 4-16-2011 Tempe Town Lake

Don’t miss it!  A full day of sailing activities at Tempe Town Lake!!

The day begins with AZ High School Sailing Championships from 10am-4pm.  Click on the RACING PAGE for NOR, SI and Sign up forms.

The final ON THE WATER session of Spring ASF Start Sailing Right runs from 1pm to 4pm.

And then ASF hosts a Spring Sailing Picnic on the “grassy knoll” from 4pm-7pm.

Bring your lawn chairs! Bring your boat! Or launch one of the AYC Sunfish or Lasers.

To RSVP and for more information contact John Mayall (480 290 8510) or Emory Heisler (602 679 0462).