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Silver Gate Yacht Club Awarded for Excellence in Junior Sailing

It can happen. A non-racing junior program has won the Garrett Horder Memorial Trophy, in part because it teaches the pure love of sailing instead of competition. Awarded annually by the Pacific Coast Yachting Association (PCYA) for excellence in junior boating education, the Horder in 2022 goes to Silver Gate Yacht Club in San Diego.

Girl on O'Pen Bic
Joyful sailing out of Silver Gate Yacht Club in San Diego.
© 2022 T. Kent Prater

Silver Gate YC Junior Program

Silver Gate YC’s program is designed around a small physical footprint and a high instructor-to-student ratio. Program director Kent Prater said, “Making sailors for life is our priority, and we don’t take it lightly. We believe that pressure to always compete drives too many kids away from a sport they could enjoy for a lifetime.” In his submission to PCYA, while paying respect to racing programs that also turn out lifelong sailors, Prater described his system as complementary, attracting certain kids who experience Silver Gate’s offerings as a safety valve from the sharp focus of competition.

RS Feva sailing with spinnaker
RS Feva sailing with spinnaker.
© 2022 T. Kent Prater

Most of Silver Gate’s participants are new to sailing, however. No club affiliation is required. “We see success in how many of our first-time kids come back for additional weeks of sailing,” Prater said. “There’s also the kid who ages out and then comes back during college years to join our instruction staff.”

The award was announced at PCYA’s Change of Watch on March 1. Bobbi Campbell, 2022 PCYA commodore, said, “We had great entries for the Garrett Horder award, an amazing fact considering the restraints of COVID. But one program rose above the others for inclusion and fun. Director Kent Prater knows how to share the great secret, that there is nothing half so much worth doing as messing about in boats, simply messing.”

The practical limitations of Silver Gate YC’s site hold student numbers to about 14 in a program week. Sailors are aged 8 to 18, with never more than four students per instructor.

Young people in a keelboat cockpit
Keelboat sailing on a Hunter.
© 2022 Courtesy Silver Gate Yacht Club

Silver Gate has a small keelboat for adventuring around San Diego Bay, but most instruction — including the weekly beach picnic/paddleboard extravaganza — takes place close to the base in a variety of dinghies including RS Fevas, Sabots and, especially, Bic Sports. Prater relates that Bics are ideal for un-regattas in which kids develop boat-handling skills while they think they’re just goofing around capsizing on the whistle or aiming for the biggest splash.

Sailing an O'Pen Bic to a buoy
Solo sailing on an O’Pen Bic.
© 2022 T. Kent Prater

“We are honored and gratified to receive the Horder Trophy,” Prater said. “We do things a bit differently. We work hard to create a program where kids from all backgrounds are excited to learn in a safe, non-competitive environment. This award is a wonderful validation of the support we receive from our club members and the efforts of our volunteers, who find their hours here gratifying and downright joyful.”

About the Pacific Coast Yachting Association

PCYA was founded in 1923 to promote the greatest good across the spectrum of yachting on the Pacific Coast of North America and in Hawaii. Its constituents are the 10 associations from San Diego to Vancouver that represent hundreds of clubs and thousands of sailors.

Garrett Horder trophy
The Garrett Horder Trophy.
© 2022 Pacific Coast Yachting Association

The Garrett Horder Memorial Trophy is a rich, 19th century Currier & Ives print of the sail/steam vessel San Francisco, displayed in the library of St. Francis Yacht Club. PCYA has awarded it since 2000.


  1. John Hysler, SGYC 2 years ago

    I’m so proud of our club! Last year was our daughter’s first in the Jr. program and she gained a lot of boat confidence. Kent, all other volunteers, and the instructors definitely deserve the kudos! I’d like to give a shout out to my wife, Kristina Hysler, who helped with the program’s social media outreach to get more kids from our community involved.

  2. wayne and sandy benesch 2 years ago

    Congratulations to Kent and the entire team. What a great program, and honor

  3. Mike and Nancie Lafferty 2 years ago

    We are so proud of our Junior Sailing program! Two of our grandsons started the program at age 8 and returned each year until they aged out. One went on to become an instructor for a season. They both continue to love sailing and messing around with boats in part because they had so much fun learning to sail. Congratulations to Kent and all the SGYC members who assist with the program in so many different ways.

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