LMSS Celebrates 50th Anniversary

1972 – 2022

Throughout the weekend of June 17 – 19th, The Lake Minnetonka Sailing School (LMSS) is commemorating 50 years of exceptional sailing education with a regatta and back-to-back socials.

Join us for our 50th Anniversary Bash, Saturday June 18. “Our intention is to celebrate 50 years of successes while looking forward to the bright future we have ahead of us. We will be welcoming back hundreds of alumni and long-time community supporters that have been instrumental in shaping who we are today; a nationally recognized sailing school serving over 1,000 students.” said Jess Haverstock, Staff Advisor to LMSS. 

In addition to lively socials, LMSS will be hosting a fun yet competitive regatta. The 50th Anniversary Regatta will attract top sailors from across the country. Spectators can watch the action from the main lake on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 2pm. There will be a total of four different fleets competing: X boat, Melges 15, MC & E scow. The competition will be top-notch with many LMSS alumni returning who have sailed in college and raced on a professional level. 

Details | https://lake-minnetonka-sailing.square.site/50th-anniversary

Regatta: June 18 – 19 from 9am – 3pm on the main lake of Lake Minnetonka

Socials: June 17 – Friday Family Night Out & June 18 – 50th Anniversary Bash*

*includes a keynote speaker, band, food, beer & wine

A Note From Jess Haverstock

Hello Sailors,

Greetings, and a very happy holiday season to you and your family. After almost ten years, this is my last update as the Director of LMSS. I am happy to announce that Annika Ekholm and Ian Solum are taking over as Co-Directors of Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, as of January 1st. 

Annika will be overseeing our Recreational Sailing programs while managing all operational logistics. Ian will be leading our Middle & High School Sailing Teams along with our summer LMSS Race Teams.

Annika and Ian are smart, passionate individuals who will bring fresh energy and perspective to our organization. As alumni of LMSS, I am confident in their ability to carry our mission forward, leading and educating our next generation of LMSS sailors. 

I will be transitioning from my role as Director to a new part-time position with LMSS as Staff Advisor and Fundraising Liaison, as my husband and I prepare for the arrival of our first child in March. As part of this new role, I am looking forward to organizing our 50th anniversary regatta and celebration in June. Stop by the island this summer and say hello—I will be in the office three days a week!

With so many changes in store, I have been reflecting recently on my time as Director of LMSS, and I wanted to take a minute to share some of our recent highlights and accomplishments as an organization:

  • LMSS is stronger and larger than ever! Our registrations in 2021 exceeded 1,000 students, and we are positioning ourselves for further growth in 2022.
  • Our sailors are seeing success building skill and confidence across our entire program, from first-time sailors all the way to competition at a national level. 
  • LMSS employs over 30 instructors and coaches, providing sailing education across a huge range of ages and skill levels. Their passion for sailing and positive rapport with students continues to impress me.
  • Beginning in 2019, the Woody Jewett Scholarship program provides ongoing tuition support for recreational sailors and competitive Race Team athletes. Thanks to the Jewett family and a growing community of supporters, we award more than $5,000 in funding annually. 
  • Our core mission at LMSS has long been to promote sailing as a lifelong sport at every level. We continue to see more and more of our LMSS graduates fulfilling this mission as they move on to sail recreationally, compete in college,  join MYC racing, and even compete in America’s Cup boats.

It is especially appropriate to celebrate these achievements this year, our 50th anniversary. Join myself and the LMSS community of alumni and supporters throughout the weekend of June 17-19th for events celebrating the history of the school, acknowledging those who have put LMSS on the map, and looking forward towards the bright future ahead of us. 

As I close, I would like to thank a few of the many mentors who helped make my years with LMSS such a success: Trevor Davis, Gordy Bowers, Steve Bernstein, Sam Rogers, Kelly Brackin, Cindy Moen, and Mark Sigel. Thank you also to our board of directors and supportive LMSS community of parents and volunteers. MOST importantly, thank you to all of our wonderful LMSS sailors.

I appreciate all of you who make LMSS a great place to work. I know that Annika and Ian will enjoy making their own mark on the school as I did. We have a lot to be proud of here at LMSS, and there is plenty of work ahead of us as we continue to grow a passion and love for the sport of sailing. Cheers to many more years of success. 



Sailing The Chop

By Gordy Bowers

I classify waves by height, length, speed and shape.  Each separate sea state requires a different combination of your basic skill techniques — weight position movement, sail trim, and steering.  Below, the following wave and wind descriptions are discussed:

1.  Flat water: height 0 to 6 inches, wind 0 to 9 knots, and small ripples on the surface.

2.  Chop: height 6 to 12 inches, wind 10 to 16 knots.

3.  Waves: height 1 to 2.5 feet, wind 16 to 20 knots.

4.  Big waves: height 2.5 to 6 feet or more, wind 16 knots and up.

5.  Swell: old waves on the Great Lakes or ocean are no longer driven by existing wind.

6.  Slop: powerboat waves that approach from random directions.

For lake sailors, Chop is a problem on the leeward half of the leg. To study the waves closely before a race, I recommend stopping close to the starting area.  Put the boat on a beam reach with your sail luffing. Choppy waves are 6 to 12 inches high and 5 to 7 feet long.  This confused chop varies in direction, from 10 to 20 degrees, and height from 6 to 12 inches. Steep waves will often come in sets of two, three or four, followed by a very flat section that will build up to another set of big waves.

The degree a wave’s height and length will cause your boat to pitch, and to slow down, will depend on the length, weight, speed and bow shape of your boat.  Small, light boats like Optimist, Laser and 420 can pitch violently up and down in steep chop.  The MC, C and Melges 15 Scows, and Yngling keelboats, will pitch less but can be slowed noticeably.  E and A Scows are longer at waterline and heavier, so they will not pitch, but can be slowed by wave friction.

The fast sailor uses all sides of the largest waves. Sailors of small boats, like Opti, Laser, 420 and Melges 15, should study wave shape.  Think of them as hills with sloping edges on the front, back, right side and left side.  Then judge what wave height will slow your boat.

When looking at the face of the individual big wave ask yourself whether the width of the white crest is long or short?   If the white crest is coming right at you, attack by steering bow down 5 to 10 degrees, lean aft, hike out, ease the mainsail to maintain the correct heal angle, and cross the wave at an oblique angle.  If the main luffs excessively, ease the jib 1 or 2 inches, to quiet the main and rebalance helm pressure.  With speed and angle your boat will pitch less in the next one or two big waves. Making your boat your heel up 5 more degrees will let the rapidly moving white water pass with less resistance.

Once you see and understand the wave that will pitch your boat, you can steer to avoid or attack the big waves. Try to avoid the largest waves by heading up or down slightly, and leaning aft to lift the bow.

When going into rough sections you need to steer slightly away from the wind to keep speed. After the last big wave crest has passed, ease main to head down with less weather helm pressure and build speed.  However, in the following flat sections you can point higher, to make up for the lost height. Trim the mainsail harder, and set vang tension for the flat spots.  In the big wave sets, an overly flat main is slower.

Your “go fast” technique is to efficiently shift from speed mode to point mode, and back, as waves change, using your basics of weight movement, sail trim and steering. 

Go out, experiment, learn, and enjoy the Chop!

Wind Direction

By Gordy Bowers

Change of the wind strength will change your three speed control basics: weight, sail trim, and steering. 

Wind direction is next most important, because it affects your strategic decisions based on your course position and fleet position.

Start studying wind on shore by looking at the sky. Observe the shape and direction of the clouds. Paul Elvstrum, the first three time Finn class Olympic gold medalist, once said “change the sky and you change the wind”. Good advice! The low level cloud cover – cumulus, stratus and stratocumulus – are most important. Look to see what direction they are moving, compared to the wind direction on the water. Oftentimes, the wind at eight or nine in the morning, after a cold night, will shift to direction of the clouds when the temperature warms up between ten and twelve noon, during your morning race. Conversely, middle and upper cloud shape and movement usually indicate later changes in the weather. 

Once on the racecourse, it is time to get a feel for the range of wind strength and direction. Wind speeds are shown by ripples and waves, and compared by whether you are sitting in, or hiking full or part time. At close range, thirty to a hundred feet, look at the waves and notice whether the ripples are in line or angled across the waves’ grid pattern. Further out – from one hundred feet to two hundred yards – look at the leading edge of the puff. 

Upwind or downwind, I strongly recommend using side stay telltales or a masthead fly. They show you the next puff, or wind shift.

When beating within half a mile from shore, the short duration puffs have a semicircular leading edge. The middle axis will be shifty. But, the direction will also depend on whether you intersect the front, middle, or back edge. The leading edge usually will have no change, or a slight header. The back edge can be a big lift. Connect the puffs to work the back edge when sailing upwind.

At about a half mile and farther from shore, the long puffs are much larger, and last longer. They usually have straight leading edges. In long puffs, the wind is steadier, and will shift less at the edges. Even further from shore, the wind strength difference from puff to lull is much less, which makes it more difficult to read direction. The best strategy is to sail to next big puff, and to be on the long tack or gybe toward the next mark. Sail toward the “dark water”. 

As a young racer, I noticed Buddy Melges, the Midwest scow builder, champion and Olympic gold medalist, was always out on the water early before races, getting a feel for the wind of the day.

The How & Why of Sailing

By Gordy Bowers

I believe the how and why of sailing should be taught using the following concepts in order:

  1. Wind strength and direction
  2. Course heading angle and apparent wind
  3. Helm pressure: balance and imbalance
  4. Sail trim and shape
  5. Sailor form and movement


All sailors want to see and feel the wind like the Seagull, the Hawk and the Pelican.

The first step is wind strength awareness. Start by looking closely at the small ripple marks that look like fish scales made by wind pushing on the water surface. If they are close together there is more wind. When further apart, less wind. In winds of one to six miles per hour the water surface is flat with ripples about 1/8 inch high. There may be smooth sections that have less wind. Weight will be to leeward to keep hull wetted surface low and shape your sails.

As the wind velocity increases to from six to twelve knots (medium winds) small waves and chop up to one foot high will appear. There may also be some white caps. Between ten and twelve miles per hour sailing upwind close hauled you will begin hiking to maintain the correct heel angle for your class of boat.

 At twelve to eighteen (medium-heavy air) waves become higher—one to two feet and longer. The frequency and width of the white caps also increases. Over twelve knots most boats become overpowered so hiking alone will not maintain correct heel angle. Become more aware of wind pressure on your face —increasing, decreasing or steady.

As the wind increases over eighteen the waves become even higher depending on how far you are from the windward shore. On Lake Minnetonka with a maximum fetch of three miles waves will max out at about two to three feet high. On Lake Michigan when the wind comes onshore from a long distance  waves can be five feet high or more. 

Again, the ripples will always be on the wave surface. The more wind the more dense will be the ripples. When winds are medium to heavy you have to anticipate the gusts, flatten sail and ease the main and/or jib sheet.  Steering should be more aggressive as you react to wind and waves. 

When sailing upwind I look for patterns at three different levels. At fifteen feet to fifty yards out I am narrowly focused on the ripples and waves coming at the boat. At this distance at least five seconds are  needed to react with helm, sheet and weight movement. Second, from fifty up to  four hundred yards I will be observing the leading edge of the puffs for speed, shape and direction.Thirdly, beyond four hundred yards is the long range forecast distance where you should look for small light and dark differences through a ninety degree range – left, middle and right. The best racers stand up before the start to get a better view of the puffs and lulls. 

The  distances are shortened down wind because your boat is sailing away from the wind. Also, the puffs and lulls feel less intense because your apparent wind is less. You must look aft more often to see the new wind coming.

Practice looking so you see the wind like the birds.

Give the Gift of Sailing

Looking to give the gift of sailing this holiday season? Purchase a class online through LMSS and then click on image below to download and print a gift certificate for the lucky recipient!

We extend our very best wishes for a happy holiday season!

Sign Up for LMSS Text Alerts

Once again this summer, LMSS will offer text alerts should we need to contact you in a timely manner (e.g. time-sensitive info, weather updates or cancellations).

To subscribe, text 22999 with the following keyword as the message: 

  • Keyword: LMSSCAMP for all daytime Recreational Camps: ages 7-9, 10-12
  • Keyword: LMSSRACE for Opti, Laser and X-Boat Learn to Race & Race Teams
  • Keyword: LMSS for evening Sail with LMSS and Keelboat Lessons

LMSS Safety Policy Update

As we await governance on the upcoming summer sailing season, we want to keep you informed of any updates regarding our programs and how we plan to adapt operations at LMSS this summer. LMSS has redesigned all of our activities with a focus on structured social distancing, hygiene and sanitization, and personal protection. As always, the safety of our sailors, staff and community remains our top priority. In addition, we have partnered with the Minnetonka Yacht Club (MYC) to limit the number of people on Lighthouse Island.

We’ve drafted an LMSS Updated Safety Policy, based on recommendations from local and national government authorities, and our peer associations and partners. This summer, our sailing community will be seeing changes including:

  • Six-foot radius delineation created for shuttle docks, pontoon shuttles and all on-island activities including chalk talk instruction
  • Minimized touch points on all LMSS facilities including dock areas, transportation, equipment and surfaces
  • Hand washing and hand sanitizing stations added at shuttle pick-up and drop-off points as well as throughout the island
  • Buff or similar facial protection required for indoor common spaces and anytime a sailor is within a six-foot radius of another person
  • Further advanced notice of class cancellation due to impending inclement weather
  • Advanced training for all LMSS staff on CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines as well as LMSS COVID-safe coaching requirements

With all the above mitigations in place, each sailor, parent and instructor play a critical role. Please review our LMSS Updated Safety Policy, which will continuously be reinforced and shared with participants for adherence prior to the start of each session.

Registration is still open! Thanks to all who have committed to keeping your registration intact at this time. We have not yet canceled or modified any sessions at this time, and will alert you if and when that happens in the weeks prior to affected dates (see our updated refund policy). To review options and register, please visit our home page.

We hope to see you soon!

Learn to Race + Race Teams Q&A Sessions

LMSS has a long history of providing top end racing instruction and performance for our sailors who are looking to achieve their goals and compete on local, regional and national levels. 

What’s next for your sailor? Our program is organized into three progressive tracks, each one building upon the track before it: Recreational Sailing, Learn to Race, and LMSS Race Teams. Sailors are encouraged to advance through these tracks as their skills improve.

Are you ready to take the next step and give racing a try? Join us to learn more about LMSS Race Teams: 

  • Stop by the Caribou Coffee on Minnetonka Boulevard and 101 either Wednesday, Feb 19 or Thursday, Feb 20 from 3:30-5:30 PM either day, as your schedule permits
  • Coaches will be available to answer questions and provide information on expectations, schedules, travel opportunities, registration and more
  • New sailors and families welcome!

If you are unable to attend, and are interested in joining LMSS Learn to Race, or a Race Team, or have questions regarding placement please contact us.

TCYS Winter Climbing Meetup

Join the Twin Cities Youth Sailing crew at the Minneapolis Bouldering Project for a rock climbing adventure!

  • Saturday, February 29, 2020, 12 PM – 2 PM
  • All TCYS affiliated sailors, parents, and coaches are invited
  • $12 youth day passes, $16 adult day passes. First time climbers get free shoe rental; otherwise, $4 shoe rental
  • All climbers under the age of 14 must be chaperoned by an adult while climbing
  • Relax between climbs at our TCYS designated hangout space

Climbers and chaperones must fill out a waiver of liability prior to arrival. https://waiver.smartwaiver.com/w/59f3b44894810/web/

New to climbing? Receive instruction from a TCYS sponsored climbing instructor!

Email Alec McKee with any questions. Happy Climbing!