Nothing junior about the MBJA
By Mary Lu Laffey
Located on the grounds of the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, the Macatawa Bay Junior Association (MBJA) introduces young sailors to a lifetime of sailing.
Cappy Capper is the program’s new sailing director. Former executive director of the Wayzata Community Sailing Center, Wayzata, Minnesota, Capper coached the University of Minnesota sailing team for the past 14 years. He is one of three U.S. Sailing Master Coach Trainers and a Level 4 Certified Coach.
The MBJA youth summer sailing camp started in 1983. After 33 years, its goal remains the same — to instill young sailors with sound water-safety fundamentals and a life-long love of the water.
Sailing camp classes are divided by age from as young as 5, for Kinder Sail half-day weekly sessions through Pram, Sloop Laser, the Optimist with its trapezoid-shaped sail and the 420 (doubled-handed) and Laser race classes for 15- through 18-year-olds.
MBJA encourages young racers to try sailing in a variety of boats.
Sailing is a lifelong sport, Capper said, recalling the day his father drove up with a Sunfish tied to the top of his VW Beetle. The entire family learned to sail on that sailboat. Today, Capper, his wife and two children all sail. “It is a family activity for us,” he said.
Although legacy plays a part in sailing, there are newbies who approach the sport every year.
“Learning to sail is an investment,” said Capper. “Not for money, but for the experience it offers.”
“You can enter the lake right here in Michigan and (by sailing) go anywhere on the planet,” he said.
There is an empowerment that comes with sailing; it is a “magical point” is how he explains it.
“I like to see the smile on a kid’s face when they finally get it,” Capper said.
Macatawa Bay Junior Association
2157 S. Shore Dr.