Some of the nation’s best sailors will display their skills this weekend during the 59th annual Dauphin Island Race. These participants did not get to this point of their careers without lots of practice and training.

To help prepare the next generation of mariners, lessons are being offered throughout the summer for those wishing to learn more about the art of sailing. Classes will be offered on both sides of the bay.

The Mobile Bay Sailing School (MBSS) is marking its 35th season of summer classes. While the MBSS is separate from Mobile Yacht Club (MYC), the classes are offered on its property near Dog River.

“We use their facilities as our home base,” said Rick Spaulding, who serves as president of the MBSS. “This summer, we have moved the operations from the bayfront side to the MYC harbor, where we can launch from a floating dock that just opened. Now we can get the sails set and launch without having to deal with dollies and ramps.”

Students will have an impressive fleet on which to train. Three years ago, MBSS updated the C420 boats, which enable young sailors to learn teamwork and spinnaker techniques. This year, new single-handed Optimist sailboats join the fun. MBSS now has seven C420s and five Optimists for training.

“Our classes are open to anyone in the area,” Spaulding said. “They do not have to be a member of a yacht club. It doesn’t matter if they have any experience, as we can tailor the program around the population that comes to class. In fact, our experienced kids like to help the new students.”

(Photo | Mobile Bay Sailing School ) Local Sailing schools typically offer instruction on C420 or Optimist boats.

There will be eight sessions, each lasting one week. Classes begin June 5 and go through July 24. Times are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the age range is from 8 to 18. The C420 boats will be used for these groups.

From June 19-23, there will be special half-day classes using the Optimist boats and targeted at younger sailors. The sessions will be either morning (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or afternoon (1:30 to 5 p.m.).

The cost for the regular week-long class is $250 per child. The half-day class is $125 per child.

Students may be dropped off as early as 8:30 a.m. and picked up as late as 5:30 p.m. As a special perk, parents who are not MYC members can visit the facilities during the camps, see the boats and have a meal.

“All of our instructors are certified,” Spaulding said. “Safety is the number-one thing we teach and stress. It is more important to know how to be a safe sailor than just being a sailor. This is the reason all students must have life jackets, sunscreen and proper footwear.”

In case of foul weather on the bay, instructors will bring the students back to the yacht club to be trained onshore concerning theoretical aspects of sailing, knots and rigging.

Spaulding said there are some MYC members now in their 40s who first learned to sail in the summer program, and now their children are taking the classes.

For anyone wishing to learn more about MBSS, there will be an open house on May 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The staff will be present at MYC to discuss the sailing school, the boats and the new floating dock. For additional information, call 251-709-4102 or visit

• For those in Baldwin County, the Fairhope Yacht Club is following a different schedule. There will be four sessions offered, June 5-16, June 19-30, July 10-21 and July 24-Aug. 4. There will be a morning class (8 a.m.-noon) or an afternoon class (1-5 p.m.) in each two-week session.

Participants are not required to be yacht club members. The fees are $300 for FYC members or $325 for non-members.

The same types of boats will be used. FYC said the Optimist fleet learns points of sail, how to determine wind direction, sailing terminology and on-the-water safety. It is recommended children between the ages of 7 and 12, and weighing up to 125 pounds, should register for this class.

The C420 fleet will learn weather basics, on-the-water safety, points of sail and sail trim. In addition, the C420 sailor will learn how to work in a skipper/crew team. Campers more than 12 years old and weighing more than 105 pounds should register for this class.

New this year is the Bay Buddies program, which has been designed to introduce the smallest campers to sailing in a playful environment, according to FYC. Bay Buddies will swim, play beach games, throw cast nets and go for sailboat and powerboat rides with counselors while learning about Mobile Bay. The cost is $150 for members and $170 for non-members.

Sailors need a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket in their size, sunscreen, closed-toe shoes, towel, change of clothes, sunglasses, bathing suit and a bag to keep their belongings organized.

To learn more, visit You may also contact Holly Murray, FYC waterfront director, at 228-363-0073 or; or Elizabeth McGriff, junior advisor, at

• Buccaneer Yacht Club is not offering a summer sailing school, but will still be busy this weekend serving as host for the 2017 Dauphin Island Race.

The skippers’ meeting is Friday at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the Division 1 race begins at 9:30 a.m., while Divisions 2 and 3 will follow 15 minutes later.

The race party at Dauphin Island Rodeo Site gets underway at 3 p.m. The trophy presentation will follow at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit

La Russa receives honor
The Mobile BayBears announced Tony La Russa has been named to the Southern League’s 2017 Hall of Fame. During the 1966 baseball season, LaRussa was a member of the then-Mobile Athletics. He batted .294 to help the minor league club win the Southern League championship.

La Russa is best known for his coaching career. He led the Oakland Athletics to a World Series title in 1989, and won rings for the 2005 and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals before retiring from managing. He was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

The Southern League inductees will be recognized at the 2017 All-Star Game in Pensacola in June.