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Youth sailing class setting anchor in Dyes Inlet

Six Leadership Kitsap members are joining forces with local organizations in an effort to get local youth in the spirit of sailing.

Dubbed Sound Challenge, the Leadership Kitsap team — comprised of Jacquelyn Aufderheide, Sauni Holt, Troy Crisp, Mitch Gillen, Bill Carlson and Mindy Hager — collaborated with Kitsap County, the Port of Silverdale and the Kitsap Sailing and Rowing Foundation to bring a new recreational sailing program to Central Kitsap.

“We hope to model the program after the one run by Poulsbo Parks and Recreation,” Aufderheide said.

The program calls for youth summer sailing courses, development of a high school sailing team and, eventually, use by members of the community. Once the program is up and running, organizers hope to offer rowing as well.

“It’s really going to be a benefit for all school districts, but especially for Central Kitsap,” said Kitsap County commissioner Patty Lent, a major supporter of the project. “(The program) is something that’s needed in Central Kitsap. Because it’s the central part of the county, I feel it will draw youth from all over ... I’m 100 percent behind this.”

Hoping to acquire six Vanguard 15 sailing boats, the project is underway with a recent donation of the first vessel by CFA Northwest Mortgage Professionals. All donated sailboats will be labeled with the donor’s name.

A schedule of summer sailing camps has already been set up by Kitsap County Parks and Recreation. Three week-long summer camps will be offered the weeks of July 17, 24 and 31 for $149 per student. The first two classes are for beginners with the third reserved for those at the intermediate level. The camp is open to seventh through 12th graders.

“I’m very excited about it because it speaks to what our vision is, to provide regional programs to attract folks from all over,” said Toni Fuller, recreation coordinator for Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation.

The Sound Challenge Regatta is the project’s kick-off event and will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, at Silverdale Waterfront Park.

“The regatta is the kick-off where the team gives everything to the county,” Aufderheide said. “It also will be the inaugural sailing of the boats.”

The regatta also will serve as a fund-raising event to raise money for the program as well as scholarships for disadvantaged youth.

“When we say disadvantaged youth, it’s not just economically, but those who need an outlet,” Holt said. “When kids can go out and build confidence, self-esteem and leadership out on the water, it’s important. It’s a huge opportunity for them to learn this.”

At the regatta, Leadership Kitsap members will donate the sailing program to the county so that it may be continued for years to come.

“It’s an ongoing project,” Aufderheide said. “We’re just getting it started. The muscle of the Leadership Kitsap class got this started. We all had the same goal of a project for the community. We knew others would have to pick up an oar to keep it going.”

Partnering with the Port of Silverdale, Dyes Inlet will be the home of the sailing program and also where the sailboats will be stored.

“(Dyes Inlet) is such an asset,” Aufderheide said. “One of the things that attracted us to Dyes Inlet was the proximity of (Central Kitsap High School), the high density of housing and transportation in the area. We liked the proximity of the water to the individuals who would be using it. It’s a way to bring the community together.”

Fundraising will be maintained by the nonprofit Kitsap Sailing and Rowing Foundation. To raise funds at the June 3 event, several local sailing clubs and organizations are coming together to offer demonstrations and information for donations for the program. The Sound Challenge team encourages the public to attend the event and participate in the free demonstrations. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s patrol boat and Kitsap County Underwater Search and Rescue volunteers will be monitoring the event.

For more information, visit www.soundchallenge.org. For information on the summer sailing camps, call Fuller at (360) 337-5370.

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