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The love of sailing brings people together in our community.

Sailors of all ages spend time on the water throughout the summer at various local lakes.

Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice just getting your sea legs, sailing can build confidence, a sense of community and become a delightful pastime. A number of local opportunities are available to take part in and spend time on the water.

The Social Butterflies is a private women’s sailing club that began on Lake Lotawana 56 years ago. This current group of gals participates in three races on Wednesdays and keeps score throughout the summer to determine who is the best female sailor on the lake.

“We have a mix of new sailors and some veterans on our fleet this year,” says Fleet Captain Kristen Falkenberg. “Anyone who owns a home or rents one on the lake and has lake rights is welcome to participate. Sailing our butterfly boats can be unstable, and you know you’re probably going to have to go swimming at times! Our goal is to develop independent sailors who can set up their own boat and take it out on the water and go wherever they want safely.”

Kristen says there are two benefits for women sailing. It is empowering to try something new and learn a skill. The women also develop community and life-long relationships. 

“I grew up on Lotawana, and we knew everyone who sailed and there was a real sense of family,” she says. “After we sail, all our butterfly sailors gather at one of our homes to catch up, have lunch and discuss the races.”

Kristen moved back home from Seattle, Wash., five years ago to live in the house her grandfather built in the 1950s at the lake, with her parents across the street and her sister’s family next door. 

“We call it the little Falkenberg compound,” she says and smiles. 

She is a physics teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School, and her yellow lab is her first mate.

“I began sailing when I was 9 years old when my family got me into it. I sailed in the junior program that my dad was in as a boy,” she says.

The youth program is out of the Missouri Yacht Club and meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. They race 420’s and Optimist dinghies. On weekends, adults come out and sail on the lake.

The Missouri Yacht Club was founded in 1933 with the goal of encouraging boating, sailing and seamanship. The MYC is a private club that continues to promote competitive and pleasure sailing for the C-Scow, MC-Scow, 420's, Optimists and Butterfly fleets. Sanctioned Fleet races take place beginning in May. Numerous social events are held for its membership throughout the year. 

At Lake Jacomo, anyone is welcome to come learn to sail. 

The scheduled opening of Lake Jacomo was spring of 1960. The founders of Jacomo Sailing Club (JSC), a group of 12 men, met in Kelly's Bar in Westport and planned the formation of the club. At that time there was no public sailing in the Kansas City area. Most of the large public lakes that now surround this area had not yet been built.

For many years, JSC was a social club that focused on racing. Today, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, education is the backbone of what they do. Through both recreational sailing and racing, they are proud to continue the legacy of the JSC, helping to build a love for sailing in the Kansas City area and beyond.

Alyssa Thomas, JSC Vice Commodore, says during the summer, they hold races every Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and ladies sailing nights every Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Ladies can either learn to sail with someone, or simply enjoy watching and meeting other sailing enthusiasts.

“We sail all sizes of sailboats, and people can learn how to sail here, and even take that skill to an ocean,” she says. “There are lots of options! Everything from impromptu day sail or an organized regatta with traveling sailors. Check out the calendar on our website. To help make sailing more accessible, we have a Boatshare program where people can use club-owned boats all year long for only $300/year. If you don't know how to sail, we offer lessons. We sold out of our 70 lessons in March and are already getting people asking about the 2022 lessons.” 

Alyssa believes sailing is a fun way to enjoy the water, connect with nature and meet friends. The people are the best, always willing to help you learn. With no gas, it’s an inexpensive way to get out on the lake.  

She explains that YouTube has inspired a lot of people to learn how to sail. 

“Lake Jacomo provides an easy platform to learn all the basics you can apply to a bigger boat. We’ve sailed a 38’ boat from St. Petersburg, Fla. to Key West, Dry Tortugas, and back with friends of ours from Jacomo,” she says. 

Alyssa learned to sail in Florida five years ago, and then came back to KC where she found Jacomo. She had no interest in racing, and after crewing with some people, fell in love with racing.

“It’s so much fun to have an excuse to go sail every week with your friends. Racing in close quarters really helps refine your skills,” she says. “We always finish the races in the rigging lot sharing a drink with friends and catching up on everyone’s adventures.”     

The club enjoys giving back to the community through outreach events including a Marina Day and their Adaptive Sailing program. 

With so many sailing options available in our community, why not give it a try?

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