Rockland Community Sailing’s high school team launches its spring season with a kickoff party for students interested in joining the fun and fast growing sport of sailing. The kickoff will be on Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in the RCS downstairs classroom at The Apprenticeshop, 643 Main St., located across from Dunkin Donuts.

Midcoast students in grades 7-12 and their parents are invited to attend the event featuring short videos, light refreshments and a brief presentation describing high school sailing activities in Maine and how to get involved with the team.

“Racing sailboats is exciting. The agile and quick 420 sloops we use feel more like flying an airplane than floating on water,” said KC Heyniger, waterfront programs director at RCS. “Students enjoy making friends with teammates from other schools and racing with sailors from all over New England. It is one of the few coed high school sports available and many sailors continue on racing for the rest of their lives.”

The team practices in Rockland Harbor on the 15-foot, two-person fiberglass 420 dinghies during an April and May spring season and a September and October fall season. Sailors practice Tuesdays and Thursdays for five weeks, and usually attend two to four regattas a season. No experience is required to join the team.

Practices are coached from safety motor boats by Patrick Dilalla, former head instructor at RCS, and volunteer assistants. “The team includes students with many different experience levels and we all work together to improve everyone’s sailing skill,” Dilalla said. “It’s very rewarding to see students self-confidence, responsibility, and decision-making skills improve as they develop into more accomplished sailors.”

More than 100 students from Rockland, Camden, Thomaston and Waldoboro schools have sailed with the team since it began in 2004. The team races against sailors from all over the northeast and travels to regattas along Maine’s coast, including Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, and Portland.

High school sailing has existed since the 1930s, but has experienced considerable growth in the last 30 years. The Interscholastic Sailing Association includes 350 teams nationwide and national championships in both two-person and singlehanded boats. There are approximately 85 teams in New England and 15 active teams in Maine.

Rockland Community Sailing has been teaching adult and youth sailing lessons for 13 years at The Apprenticeshop (formerly Atlantic Challenge), a nonprofit school teaching traditional boatbuilding and seamanship. Since 1972, the organization has offered hands-on programs dedicated to inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship, community, and the traditions of the sea. Boatbuilding and sailing courses are offered throughout the year at our Rockland waterfront campus. Youth sailing scholarships are available.

For more information, call Heyniger at 594-1800.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at sports@villagesoup.com.