Being out on a boat in the sunshine is one of the perfect ways to bond with your family, says Pierre Yves Jorand. The sailor has participated in four America’s Cup races and specialises in catamarans or trimarans. He was the mainsail trimmer onboard Alinghi, the boat which won Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series 2013. But his focus hasn’t always been extreme racing. His two grown daughters, Margaux and Mélanie, have been out on the water with him since they were 6 months old and one-and-a-half respectively. He tells suitcases&strollers why sailing with kids is a fun activity and makes for a great family adventure holiday.
Why choose sailing as a family holiday activity?
Sailing is a good way to recover, to relax, to spend some time altogether in a small area. You can share a lot of things over lunches or during cruising, so it’s a nice way to have some time with your family. It’s definitely a holiday in itself [not just a means of transport] and it’s relaxing onboard.
Why do your kids like sailing?
They enjoy travelling without any noise and relaxing on the boat, having fun in the sun and sitting on the tramps while on the catamaran.
What types of boats do your kids enjoy sailing the most?
They really like coming with us on the catamarans because they are very stable boats and very flat, especially when anchored at the night at the beach.
Where are some of the places in the world that they have been sailing?
New Zealand, Fiji islands and the Balearic Islands in Spain.
Which was their favourite destination?
They like the Balearic Islands for the sun, temperature, sea breeze and, most importantly, for the fiestas!
Which was their least favourite destination?
We are very lucky to have been to wonderful places in the world, so I don’t think they have had any bad souvenirs from sailing.
Do parents need to be good sailors to take their kids sailing?
If you want to sail with them on a yacht, yes, for sure you have to be a sailor, just to understand the weather and the risky situations. But if you don’t have any sailing skills, just take your children to a yacht club and they can bring you out to wonderful places around the world.
Does the whole family have to be strong swimmers to take children sailing?
Not necessarily. If the children are coached well by trainers at the [sailing] club, on the yacht it should be ok.
What is the right age for children to start learning to sail?
I guess around the age of 4 or 5 there are many nice yacht clubs around the world. To be optimistic, 4 is a good age.
Is it appropriate to take young toddlers or infants sailing?
Yes, you just need to be careful. As with many outdoor activities, you just need to be cautious.
What is the best type of boat for families with young kids?
I would probably choose a boat that is very stable, it can be a catamaran or a monohull, which has nice ballast. I would also consider having a fence around the deck, just to make sure the kids don’t go overboard too easily.
What are your top 3 tips for parents who want to sail with their children?
Choose a place where the wind isn’t too strong, so it’s better to check that before [you leave]. Secondly, choose a place where you can go on land or into a harbour every two or three days, just to have some fresh vegetables and fresh food onboard. Thirdly, avoid any potentially dangerous places where war or pirates are possible.
To read about the Levinson family who took their 3 daughters under 10 sailing around Southeast Asia for 18 months, click on the suitcases&strollers story here.