The Opti dinghies with kids at the helm take off into the bay from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

The Opti dinghies with kids at the helm take off into the bay from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

Oak Bay sailing school inspires confidence

Royal Victoria Yacht Club shares passion for sailing with non-members

Kids are on the water engaging in environment, learning confidence and sharing in a passion for sailing this summer.

“Nobody knows how long (we’ve been teaching sailing) the club’s been here since 1842 and they think they’ve been offering sailing since then,” said Steve McBride, sailing program coordinator with Royal Victoria Yacht Club. “We have programs for four to 100 years old. Right now we have room in a lot of our four to 11-year-olds classes.”

In recent years, the club is part of a wave of change, rolling out the CanSail program.

“The program here has been evolving over the years,” McBride said. “We helped develop that seven years ago and we recognize the need to update and modernize the learn to sail program Canada.”

The programs offer an introduction to boats, water safety and being comfortable on docks while learning to sail. “Really it’s about all those things and being connected to the environment, the ocean and all those things that are important in this day and age,” McBride said.

The youngsters head out on a 12-foot Optimus dinghy, working in pairs for the youngest kids, but quickly heading out to sail solo.

“It differs from other sports in that it is physical and demanding, but in different ways. It’s not a high, high aerobic sport … but it’s an incredibly cerebral sport. It’s understanding the physics and science of it,” McBride said. “You have to do deal with the myriad of variables like the wind, the tide, the waves, the other boats.”

Whether learning to work as a team or manage the vessel alone, learning to sail develops confidence and offers personal growth, McBride said. After all, you’re out there alone.

“There’s a lot of self confidence in being in charge,” McBride said. “For kids that size, they’re not old enough to drive a car, nowhere near, but we’re like ‘here’s a boat here’s a vehicle go for it’.

There is space available for the junior program in August; non-members are welcome. Visit or email for details on how to register for sailing courses.


“We are always looking for new members of course,” McBride said. “We’re always looking for people that want to share the passion of boating.”


Nature meets technology

Many youngsters (and some not so youngsters) are out chasing fictional characters with the release of the new game Pokemon Go on Sunday. RVYC on Beach Drive boasts a Pokemon gym and the area is alive with the game characters, said Steve McBride, who only knows this because of his young sailors.

“My summer race team they were out there and got a little sidetracked,” he said. “Apparently, Cadboro Bay is alive with Pokemon.”