The Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, LMSS, situated on Lighthouse Island in Carson’s Bay in Deephaven, offers students a way to learn how to sail and get outside during the summer months. The program offers lessons and camps for sailors of all ability levels, from ages 6-16. Every summer they have over 700 students enrolled who are eager to learn and experience the joys of sailing for themselves.
“Sailing is an amazing sport. It teaches patience, sportsmanship, work-ethic and all around good life skills,” Jess Haverstock, executive director of LMSS, says.
Haverstock began taking lessons with LMSS when she was 10 years old and continued to remain involved as her skills evolved and she got older. She sailed as well as coached for 22 years following her initial start, until she joined the staff as the director of the program.
Photo by Chris Emeott
Haverstock knew that sailing was always going to be at the forefront in her life, since it has rewarded her with wisdom, happiness, and countless exciting experiences. Being a coach to young sailors has brought her insurmountable joy since she has been able to share her passion with those who are eager to learn. The goal of the program is to allow students who are learning to be able to sail safely and happily for the rest of their lives, whether they form a competitive life-long career or view sailing as a leisurely pastime.
“As our playing field changes everyday (wind, waves, weather), our sailors are constantly faced with new challenges. We work to help sailors navigate these challenges and become confident on and off the water,” Haverstock says.
LMSS separates their programs into three different categories, the Recreational Sailing Program, Learn to Race and the LMSS Race Team. Each program is a series of progressions and usually students take one class or participate in one program after another as they improve. All of their instructors are U.S. Sailing-certified and they have a staff comprised of full-time as well as seasonal coaching instructors.
“Our location allows students to get away during summer days. Students ride a pontoon to camp, and enjoy amenities including picnics, volleyball and swimming,” Haverstock says.
Those who have no experience begin with the Recreational Sailing Program, which is a week of classes that allow new sailors to learn the basics, such as knot tying, terminology, and upwind and downwind sailing. The next step is to sign up for the Learn to Race program, which helps students who already know the basics learn how to race single handed and double handed boats. Once they are more experienced, students can become members of the LMSS Race Team, which allows sailors to work with the coaches, race and compete against others.
“These skills can be used for the rest of their life whether they choose to sail recreationally or competitively,” Haverstock says.
One of the unique programs they offer lasts two weeks and focuses on incorporating STEM into sailing. The students learn about exploring physics, marine biology and engineering, in relation to sailing.
LMSS also tries to remain involved as much as possible within the community, so they coach the middle and high school teams at Minnetonka High School, Breck and The Blake School. They also have partnered with Minnetonka Community Education, local YMCAs and the Blake Summer School because they want as many kids as possible to be able to experience sailing.