Imagine spending Monday evenings in the summer feeling the saltwater breeze on your face while you and one other person man your Star boat, racing around the buoy. It’s all fun and games with the Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet! They are ready for you to join them, and all are welcome whether or not you have sailing experience.

Budd Inlet Star Sailboat fleet does races every Monday during the summer as a way to practice while having fun. Photo courtesy: Cheryl Rogers

Star Sailboats, a Historic Olympic Sport

Stars are 22-foot, 3-inch-long sailboats that weigh at least 1,460 pounds. They have been around since 1911 and were originally an Olympic-class, two-man keelboat. They were used for Olympic boating events up until 2012, when the events were dropped in favor of small boats that could be raced closer to the shores with stadium seats for better viewing, shares David Branch. David is a nationally award-winning star sailor and has become the unofficial trainer for all the new sailors who come to the club. He also took first place last year for the club.

All the boats are identical in Star racing, so you know exactly what your placement is when you cross the finish line, unlike other races where the boats are different and times have to be adjusted after the race to see who really won.

People all over the world still race Stars. “The Star class is still just as strong,” David shares. “Still got the most talented people in the world sailing it. They have regattas all over the world. I have another boat that I travel around the US and things like the world championship every other year. Continental championships, big regattas. We have fleets in Vancouver and Seattle race there as well. So, it’s a much bigger operation than just our fleet.”

sailboat on Bude Inlet at sunset with trees in the distance
Sailing in Olympia is the perfect way to spend summer on the Sound! Join the Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet. Photo courtesy: Cheryl Rogers

Sailing on Budd Inlet

The Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet is part of the South Sound Sailing Society. The boats being used by the club are older, most are 25 years old and some are even 50 to 60 years old, shares David. Cheryl Rogers, past fleet captain for the Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet, says the age of the boats helps keep costs down for those who want to own and race one.

While the club used to have around 25 boats in the water, after COVID, the group has dwindled to around 5-10 boats. They are actively looking for new members who want to be skipper or crew. And you don’t need to know how to sail, though it’s helpful.

“Tactically, it’s probably one of the most difficult boats to be really good at,” shares David. “Because there’s so many little variables that make the boat faster or slower. It takes a long time to figure out all the little nuances of racing.” But that challenge is part of the fun, and David is eager to share what he has learned during his lifetime of sailing.

Now 76, David started sailing at the age of 8 and as the unofficial trainer for Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet, he is eager to help anyone who is interested in sailing. This includes women and high schoolers. Cheryl, who has also been sailing since she was young, says that everyone is welcome.

“I’ve had female crews for probably the last 10 years,” says David. “And they do pretty well. One of them sailed with me in Miami, in the winter, for two world championships.”

“I had a very nice compliment from a guy that came mid-season last year and he said we just were so helpful to him, lots of camaraderie, everyone’s willing to help you,” shares Cheryl. “So, if someone has the aptitude and ambition, we’ll help them get a boat on the water. You know, we’re all about that. But you can start off as a crew.”

Yuri Berebtisky is a teenager who has been sailing with the Olympia club for a few years. “I really like how welcoming the club is,” Yuri shares. “It is very easy to join and get involved no matter what your past sailing experience is. Star Sailing is a great way to get exposure to sailing for little to no cost. It is also a fantastic way to get outside in the summer!”

High Schooler Yuri Berebtisky skippering the lead boat with the Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet. Photo courtesy: Cheryl Rogers

Joining a Sailing Club in Olympia

Cheryl notes that if you do want to get some lessons while learning from the Star Fleet, you can check out the City of Olympia Parks and Recreation, as they often have youth and sometimes adult sailing classes. For high schoolers, some of the schools have sailing clubs too.

And don’t worry about not having a boat! David says they have at least 10 boats that are looking for skippers, half are for sale, half are being given away to those with some sailing experience, so they can help you become a sailboat owner if that is your dream.

For more information and to join, visit the Budd Inlet Star Sailboat Fleet website.

“You’re out on beautiful Budd Inlet on those long summer evenings, it’s just beautiful,” Cheryl says. Experience the thrill, beauty and camaraderie for yourself.

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