Building sailing interest with a hammer

Published on June 12th, 2018

Like many rural yacht clubs in America, Longview Yacht Club in eastern Texas has been challenged to introduce sailing to the youth and adults alike. With only 45 member families in our small club, they do not have an active youth program. But one event is changing the landscape and creating excitement.

Called the U-Make-It, U-Sail-It, it was re-tooled in 2015 as a true grassroots youth sailing event, focused on introducing youth, scouts, and adults to the sport of sailing. It has since consistently and successfully grown each year and by all measures is a phenomenal success!

Critical to the event was the creation of the one-design “LYC-8” (downwind) drag racing sailboat that can be built from a supplied kit and materials from local home improvement centers (i.e. Lowes) all for about $150. It is easy to assemble, safe, supports up to 300 lbs of crew weight, weighs less than 60 lbs with a sail designed by two time Olympic Silver medalist and Hall of Fame sailor Randy Smyth.

The sails are assembled by local hot air balloon service company with donated used hot air balloon material. Online YouTube videos are available to assist builders. One Design class rules enable participants to design and shape the hulls, configure control lines, and modify the rudder system.

In 2018, the event was attended by over 250 people, of which over 100 were youngsters. Thirty-four teams competed in 10 downwind drag races (200m) in 5 to 20 knots of wind. Of the 34 teams competing, 20 were BSA Scouting division, with 2 person teams. The overall scout team received a perpetual trophy they will need to defend next year. The remaining teams competed in the double handed division.

The final race, an overall challenge of all teams had 14 boats participate. The overall winners were a team of two 11 year old girls! Click here to see video of event.

Not only did this event attract and motivate scouting troops in the region to participate, it also appealed to families with parents / grandparents and younger children working together to build and sail the boat together. In the end, this event promotes the sport of sailing to youth and others, raised money for a deserving charity, and brought positive attention to LYC in the community.

An example of the success of getting youth in the region exposed to sailing is the 2015 overall winner, who is now a member of the Texas A&M sailing team. His exposure through this event inspired him to pursue sailing in college. Longview Yacht Club has continued to partner with other yacht clubs and have already exported and conducted an event with the Shreveport Yacht Club in Louisiana.

For more information:

For more information on how your scouts, youth group, yacht / sailing club can join this grassroots success story, contact us at or (903) 242-8697

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