Mooring, Dingy, Laser, fleet, match, Guppy, and Whaler - words that mean little on land, yet across the six square miles of water that make up the Jordanelle Reservoir, just east of Deer Valley, these words come to life. Seamanship seems, whether in the ocean or right here in Park City, has a language all its own.
"I found the mooring!" yells Scott VerMerris, Executive Director for Park City Sailing, over the bow of our boat, catching the attention of two other sailors in the PC Sailing Family. Each of them replies with a hoot and holler as VerMerris, one hand on the rudder, steers us close enough to get a good look at the circular buoy floating just beneath the surface. "When the tide drops, we find these moorings, which is great because I don't have to build a new one," says VerMerris, describing a blend of cement and rope I barely understand. "I mean, we say tide, but …it's the dam, they let the water out into the Provo River." A fact, like most of our conversation on sailing that I am just now learning.
Perhaps the most unique piece of information I garner from VerMerris during our chat is that PC Sailing doesn't operate like a typical business with the typical Park City budget. "We're not a yacht club," says VerMerris, "we're a non-profit, and we're mainly volunteer-run - Board members and volunteers." VerMerris himself is the organization's first Executive Director, taking on the role as their business has expanded. A fact indicated by the number of times his phone rings, answering questions, and scheduling call-backs with other volunteers and employees who are either running a youth camp or preparing for a lesson. "We're open for donations, equipment if you want to donate a new sale for your favorite boat…" says VerMerris, trailing off, indicating they will take just about anything offered to help keep their fleet up and floating.
PC Sailing caught wind 13 years ago by founder by Geoff Hurwitch, who, similar to VerMerris, grew up sailing with family off of the East Coast and racing for the University of Vermont, the wind eventually pushing his sails west into Park City in 2006.
"The mission was to make sailing affordable and accessible," says VerMerris, "but really, it was just to get people messing around with boats." A description I think fits my time sailing perfectly, ducking the boom, pulling open the Jib, and keeping a sharp eye out for those Lasers, a one (sometimes two) man sailboat on which PC Sailing gained speed, literally, with their Tuesday night races.
From week-long summer camps to their members-only access program, PC Sailing offers a range of options for ages five and up, whether it's a summer camp, an individual lesson, or their Wednesday night group, Women in Wind. The camps themselves run weekly from mid-June to mid-August, offering lessons from beginner to advanced, "They're very popular," says VerMerris, "we can't even meet the demand."
And for those whose abilities go beyond the typical student, PC Sailing offers a five- and ten-week camp for their Junior Sailing Racing Team, "We'd love for kids to aspire to join the race program," says Ver Merris, perhaps a bit nostalgically.
So while it may seem like PC Sailing caters to a younger audience, don't be fooled by their week-day offerings. Adult individual or group lessons are available all summer long at any skill level, even those looking to train for their sailing certifications to either charter boats around the world or simply become a member of PC Sailing at Jordanelle. "All of our curriculum is US Sailing certified," says Ver Merris, of their 60 boat fleet, six of which are reserved for members who have passed a "Skipper Check-Out." To be able to sail on their own, a set of skills Ver Merris describes as "basic seamanship," telling me right away that I do not qualify.
For Locals and Visitors
For those of you who live in or are simply visiting beautiful Park City and have either memorized the trail map or maxed out your interest, perhaps this is the summer you get off the beaten path and learn a new skill that's a little less dusty. Their Wednesday night women's program does not require any prior knowledge of sailing, and their adult lessons are always tailored to bring the roads man to the sea. Pop your tot into a camp or take a family lesson and enjoy a view of the mountains from a new angle before the wind, and the season, changes.