Sailing center brings in advanced racer to teach students 

Graham Shivers’ high school’s trophy case is filled with sailing medals from his competitive sailing endeavors. Moving to Key West in November, he spent the past six summers teaching sailing to students in Virginia. He’s raced throughout the country and in New Zealand and brings the expertise needed to teach kids aged 6 to 17 the ropes in this summer’s youth sailing program at Key West Sailing Center.

“The program, in years past, has focused on day sailing,” Shivers, a certified U.S. Sailing instructor, said. “This year there will be a progression of skill levels where a student can start in a beginner class and move to the intermediate, then racing class.”

In the racing class, the students will get a taste of what Shivers has been doing his entire life — competing in regattas. He was ranked 17th in the nation on his varsity sailing team and was All State Honors in Virginia’s Interscholastic Sailing Association’s in 2014.

Barbara Blackmore, administrator at Key West Sailing Center and assistant instructor this summer, has been sailing since she was 12 years old. “It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I finally came to the realization that I wanted to be a sailor,” she said.

Blackmore, who’s been sailing in Key West since 1996, spent the past couple of years teaching cruise ship passengers the art of sailing on their layovers. She thinks it is a wonderful experience to instruct students in the summer program. “It’s so incredible to see the children turn into sailors,” she said.

Last year, a student who was once afraid of the boats was giving her thumbs up a few days later while sailing his vessel. Joining Shivers and Blackmore teaching this summer is Shiver’s girlfriend Heidi Ruse, also a certified U.S. Sailing instructor, who sailed her boat down from Virginia for the summer.

This year, the camp is progressive through three weeks, instead of a two-week program.

Children who decide they love sailing can continue sailing, Blackmore said; the $30 yearly student membership fee will allow students access to all the boats, paddleboards and kayaks at the Key West Sailing Center for the rest of the year. (Family memberships are $210.)

In addition to summer camp, the center has regattas on Wednesday and Sundays at the club and student sailors who complete the program are welcome to join the informal races. The center also participates in a club racing throughout the Keys and in Miami.

“The camps have a flow to them,” Blackmore said. “They can start without knowing the first thing about sailing to being able to compete within three weeks.”

From learning how to sail, to refining sailing skills, the youth program offers a summer of fun and educational activities on the water. The program’s intention is to provide the children the opportunity to learn and practice sailing in a fun and safe environment based on U.S. Sailing principles.

The classes will cover all skill levels, the basics of sailing, and racing on a variety of boats. These include Opti Prams, Hobie Waves, Sunfish, Lasers, and 420s.

The tuition for the course is $250, which includes books and homework assignments. Classes are capped at 10 students. One hour is provided for lunch, with students bringing their own lunch from home. The sailing center is located at Garrison Bight. For more information, contact Barbara Blackmore at 305-896-0337 or Graham Shivers at 804-577-0120.

There will be ten, one week sessions, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for students ages 8 to 17. Cost per class per student is $250.

June 8 to June 12 – Beginner Class

June 15 to June 19 – Intermediate Class

June 22 to June 26 – Racing Class

June 29 to July 3 – Young (6-10-year-olds) Beginners Class

July 6 to July 10 – Beginner Class

July 13 to July 17 – Intermediate Class

July 20 to July 24 – Racing Class

July 27 to July 31 – Beginner Class

August 3 to August 7 – Intermediate Class

August 10 to August 14 – Racing Class



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