On any given summer afternoon activity period our camp has 10-to-20 sails on the water with instructors and campers sailing surf boards and sail boats. Our sailing and wind-surfing activities benefit from boats and boards that allow as many as 24 campers to be sailing, and 20 campers to be wind-surfing.
Sailing instruction is open to campers of any age. The instructors give lessons and responsibilities that work with the campers from 8-year old beginners through 15-year old skippers. There is a sailing curriculum that help campers learn the basics, and then challenges them to learn more as they get older and more experienced. It is outlined below in the section that describes qualification for Crew certification, and then later Skipper certification.
The camp uses two FJ’s for sailing instruction. The FJ’s have been the standard for summer camp sailing on Maine lakes for fifty-five years. These boats are highly regarded for teaching young sailors how to rig, sail, race, and take care of a sail boat. They combine ease of rigging with the complexities involved in learning how to rig and trim a sail boat. They are terrific boats when it comes to sailing in a variety of conditions. FJ’s can be used in light winds, and they also provide a stable boat for sailing in moderate winds. Having two identical FJ’s allows us to set up practice race courses for qualified campers. And FJ’s have the kind of sophistication that requires campers to learn about taking care of the boat.
The sailing program also benefits from having a sleek 420 in the fleet. The 420 is a highly regarded Laser company boat for college and junior instruction. The 420 helps campers learn high level sailing because it is quick and agile on the waves and in the winds. The 420 is a speedy boat for the campers who become ready for racing.
The largest boat in the camp fleet is a Harpoon made by the Boston Whaler Company. The Harpoon is 17 feet long and comfortably holds 8 passengers. But campers are not just passengers in the Harpoon: they are involved as crew members controlling the jib, steering the tiller, and helping to hold the sail. This boat requires the most teamwork, and groups of campers enjoy collaborating with an instructor on the complexities of sailing the big boat. The Harpoon helps junior sailors be involved in the big sailing decisions involved in rigging, getting underway, sailing with the wind, tacking against the wind, coming about, and participating in boat landings at the end of the sailing activity.
Catamaran sailing is very popular with campers who love the sensation of being right on the water with the wind and lake spray washing over the deck. Campers sit on the trampoline mesh deck of the Cat with the water rushing by below while this high performance boat crisscrosses the lake on warm summer days. Catamaran rides offered by the sailing staff lead to sailing instruction for the crew. Campers gradually learn and pass the skills needed to become Catamaran skippers. Skippers learn the fun of tacking, heeling, coming about, and running with the wind on the Hobie Cat.
Our recently donated PiXel sailboat has been rigged and anxiously awaits campers' arrival. Ishmael took it for a test drive on April 23rd (below) and loved everything about it. The PiXel is designed to be an entry level, double handed boat for schools and summer camps. This is the right boat for aspiring sailors to initially learn parts of the boat and rigging. Then young sailors will find the PiXel to be both stable and responsive when they start taking lessons from our sailing instructors. And finally the PiXel will be a safe and exciting boat when campers have passed their exams, and are ready to skipper their first boat. The Junior Sailing Association has adopted the PiXel as the new vessel for double-handed entry level sailing programs, and we are so pleased that a Pixel has been donated to the Slovenski Camps fleet.
This is a good boat for learning how to sail. Sailors love the simplicity of this boat. It has a valuable place in our teaching progression because it was designed for safety and simplicity.
The Vanguard-15 is the perfect boat for sailing in your local yacht club fleet, international caliber team racing or knocking around with the family. Designed by Bob Ames in the 1990s for high school and college fleets, the simple design makes the V15 a great boat for a range of sailing activities. From team and fleet racing to lake sailing in the summer, the V15 can do it all. Many of our campers learned on the Vanguard which has been in our fleet since 2010.
Nomenclature: Identify: bow, stern, port, starboard, tiller, mast, boom, jib, rudder, centerboard, centerboard up/down lines in Harpoon, cleats including cleating rudder in down position, windward and leeward, boom vang, outhaul, automatic bailers. Sailing skill: Describe tacking, running with the wind, how to raise the mainsail, raise the jib, positions of the crew, heeling in the boat. Safety: Describe life jacket policy, boom safety, actions if boat is in danger of capsizing, actions if boat capsizes, more emphasis on boom safety. Practical test: Rigging the boat and sailing with a skipper. Taking down and securing the boat to the dock.
Nomenclature similar to crew test. Sailing skill: Sailing in light and heavy winds, when to use and not use a jib, how to react to luffing sails, how to prepare to come about/jibe, evasive actions if possible collision, rights of way, skipper positioning, sailing downwind, how to tell when a puff is coming, what does black water mean, skipper's role in the boat, close haul, broad reach, centerboard function and use. Safety: Describe life jacket policy, boom safety, actions if boat is in danger of capsizing, actions if boat capsizes. Practical test: A skipper must sail with a counselor and demonstrate proficiency on different tacks, in different wind conditions, skipper must come about and jibe, read the force and directional changes of the wind, capsize and right a boat under counselor supervision and demonstrate full knowledge of all safety protocols.
Windsurfing instruction is open to any campers who are 13 years old and older. Windsurfing instruction starts out with dry land training on the beach. Next, campers learn to do shallow water drills on big, slow, and stable boards. As soon as a camper is ready, then the camp instructors guide the beginner through drills in deep water on large boards that are less tippy. Soon, campers show mastery of what they have learned in drill progressions and then combine that foundation with what they will learn from the trial-and-error experience of windsurfing while instructors coach them from nearby boats or paddleboards. Windsurfing has a learning curve similar to snowboarding and skiing that involves learning the basics, before gradually moving onto faster boards as the camper’s balance and fundamental skill increase. Windsurfing sail size is increased or decreased depending on skill improvement and/or wind conditions. Dozens of campers each summer who start wind-surfing for the first time at Slovenski Camps are criss-crossing the lake on their own by the end of their second week of instruction. The wind-surfing program has 20 wind-surfing boards and sails, two paddle-boards, two motor-boats, and four instructors. Slivers Slovenski is the director of the Wind-Surfing program. He has been the leader of sailing activities at Slovenski Camps for the past 12 years. Earlier in his career, Slivers spent ten years teaching sailing sports on the Charles River as an instructor in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Slivers Slovenski: Bates College class of 1984. Sailing Instructor, 1997-2007, for the MIT Department of Physical Education & Athletics, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Senior Lifeguard and Waterfront Director of Slovenski Camps from 2010 through 2021.
Larry Langmore 'Ishmael' was Union College class of 1971 where he was on the sailing team in 1968 and 1969. He began his sailing career at Camp Hawthorne in 1959 and was Sailing Counselor in 1966 and 1967 when he taught Admiral and Dr Dave (below) how to sail when they were just young campers. He has raced extensively on Long Island Sound and sailed on Casco Bay, Narragansett Bay and Great Bay in NH, and was even part of a sailing crew that raced off Bermuda. Ishmael has 20 years of sea kayaking experience off the coast of Maine where he gained valuable experience in navigation, weather, winds and safety all of which are transferable to his Panther Pond sailing lessons. He has written a book (below) about the history of sailing at Camp Hawthorne and enjoys sailing with his granddaughter at camp.
'Admiral' Jim Brennan: Union College class of 1974. Admiral was awarded 'excellence in sailing' on his 1965 camper plaque while at Camp Hawthorne. He has been an enthusiastic sailor on Panther Pond for six decades. Admiral started our sailing program in 2010 and is thrilled to see the growth and level of camper involvement it has achieved.
Dr. Dave graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1976. He developed his love for sailing at Camp Hawthorne on Panther Pond and has extensive experience in ocean and lake sailing. He has raced competitively through Narragansett Bay for many years.
Mike Slovenski: Harvard University class of 2015. Panther Pond sailor 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021