Local group catching wind in its sails | ParkRecord.com

Local group catching wind in its sails

Park City Sailing Association enjoying a record season

By Griffin Adams
The Park Record

Members of a Park City Sailing Association junior program prepare to set sail on the Jordanelle Reservoir last summer.

Nestled just east of Park City and west of Kamas is the Jordanelle Reservoir, a more-than-ideal body of water that provides plentiful summertime activities.

Ken Block is constantly on the waters at Jordanelle as Park City Sailing Association's vice president. Block, and the rest of the sailing community in town, hopes to appeal to the town's many winter sports athletes interested in practicing more than one sport. He knows sailing will never be the top dog in Park City's athletics, but hopes some people will pick it up during an offseason.

"We're a ski resort town," said Ken Block, Park City Sailing Association’s vice president. "But there's something in the DNA of all of us that come here. How many people do you know that just play one sport?"

Sailing has seen a massive amount of growth in recent years in the area, Block said. Last year, Block remembers wrapping up the summer season thinking that Park City Sailing Association had a pretty successful year. The group had over 1,500 participants in the summer of 2016, which included 390 members in its junior program. It also taught 90 sailing lessons.

As great as last summer was, Block said sailing has been even more popular this summer.

"We had a great year last year and we're up 100 percent year on year," Block said. "People are just flocking to us. … We're blessed with the Jordanelle. It's filled to capacity. It's draining at the slowest rate that we've ever seen, so we have an abundance of water and great weather."

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Conditions have been so good, Block said, that interested parties have made their way up from the Salt Lake Valley in order to sail in the Jordanelle.

In Block's mind, the success feels like a long time coming. The Association started back in 2008, but in its short time of existence, it’s grown its fleet to 42 boats (it had just seven in 2009), developed adaptive and therapeutic programs and created youth programs for ages as young as 5 to 6 years old.

"People are just flocking to us," Block said. "We're also graduating people that come to us and learn to sail. Or they sailed when they were teenagers and now the kids are out of the house and they're coming back, rekindling the sport.

"We're not just getting past sailors, but people who have come to us over the last two to three years that were either novices or really rusty. They take a group of lessons with us and now they're out sailing by themselves or with friends."

Block said that the Association is starting to see its efforts come full circle.

"We have to build a sailing culture," Block said. "Since we don't have multi-generational sailors, we have to kind of recruit so that each year, we fill all these boats.

"This year on staff, we have three of our junior instructors who started sailing with us seven years ago and are now in high school and are on our staff. It's great because we're starting to see the first generation learning and now giving back as staff members."

The hope is that these same sailors will continue to give back, creating a ripple effect among sailors in the community, Block said.

For now, he and the rest of the Park City Sailing Association are content enjoying what's left of the season.