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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.