Sailing school launches new team

On any given day at Lake Calhoun Sailing School (LCSS), there are kids sailing from sunup to sundown.

The school is accommodating about 1,000 youth sailors, and has recently provided an opportunity for the advanced ones to compete as a unit with Team Calhoun.

While there have always been advanced sailors at the school, “until this year the kids didn’t have a strong sense of coherence or direction,” said Larry Salzman, who helped to start the team. Coach Hugh Harris attributes this year’s success to the “whole picture.” The kids are motivated, and the team has access to good equipment and behind-the-scenes assistance, he said.

With a new logo and bright red team shirts, Team Calhoun started with a bang this season — more than 40 kids from all over the Minneapolis area are members, and many have sailed for LCSS for years.

The team began as an opportunity for sailors who wanted to compete. Each member participates in a least one regatta, but most go to more, Salzman said. Already the team has competed in regattas as far as Michigan and New Jersey.

The youth members of the team such as Connor Corgard, 16, have been a driving force in the process. “He is really competitive,” said his mom Anne, who has been dubbed ‘team mom.’ “He has worked hard to get the interest of the other kids.”

The focus of Team Calhoun is to improve sailing, Anne said. And in that respect, the team has been very successful. “All the kids have improved in their sailing skills and racing skills,” she said. “Most important, they are just really enjoying the whole team experience. They want to learn and compete.” Coach Harris has seen improvement as well, and believes it is largely due to the participation in regattas.

The kids’ love of sailing is represented in the amount of time they commit to the sport. At a minimum, the kids dedicate afternoons from Monday through Thursday for the summer, and compete in regattas on Fridays. Other sailors devote even more.

“Connor is at the lake from 8 a.m. until dusk from Monday through Thursday, he races Fridays, and he travels weekends!” laughs Anne. “It’s a 24/7 thing other than sleep for him.” Connor not only trains with Team Calhoun, but also teaches and races during the day.

The dedication of the team is admirable, but also necessary. “It’s quite an endeavor to participate,” Salzman explained. “It’s not just a matter of showing up.”

Corgard, who has been sailing since the age of 12, relies on the new team to keep him going. Before now, Corgard sailed independently at regattas and has reached national levels. Without a team to support him, he really can’t go further, he said. “Now that we have a team it’s so much easier to travel. Plus it’s nice to have teammates to talk to. They help me, and I help them. If we didn’t have a team,” Connor said, “I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

LCSS has sent members to regattas in the past, but the other teams in the area have not taken the school too seriously. This year Team Calhoun has been quite an underdog, Harris said. “Most of the wealth is at Lake Minnetonka Sailing School.” After this year, however, “other schools are really taking notice!”

Harris believes that Team Calhoun has an advantage because of Lake Calhoun’s inner-city location. The lake is surrounded by the public, he said, “and it really attracts a lot of people.”

Connor said Team Calhoun “is full blown,” and is not looking to stop any time soon. They will continue to sail this summer and begin again in May 2011. For more information on Team Calhoun, call LCSS at 927-8552 or visit lakecalhoun.org.