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Dec. 11, 2017
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Growing up sailing

By Pamela A. Keene 
 
The lure of sailing on Lake Lanier brings Samantha Gaito and Daniel Postell back to their home lake for a couple of weeks each summer. They’re not campaigning boats or participating in races; they come back to teach in the University Yacht Club Maritime Foundation’s Junior Sailing Weeks each June. 
 
It’s part of their summer jobs on opposite coasts of the country – Sam based in South Florida and Daniel in Seattle – pretty much dream jobs for the months between the school year. Both grew up sailing on Lake Lanier and have been coaching with the UYC program since its inception seven years ago. From junior coaches, both worked their way up the ranks, earned their US Sailing Level I Instructor certifications and this past summer served as lead instructors for the program. 
 
“We are so fortunate to have Sam and Daniel with us each year,” said Susan Reddaway, who with UYC’s Rick Smith, manages the program. “And we have so many of the kids who come back year after year; they’re always so glad to see Sam, Daniel and the other instructors who’ve been with us each season.” 
 
Each summer, youngsters come together at UYC to learn about sailing, sportsmanship and boating. They learn the “rules of the road” safety guidelines, sail boats in teams or on their own, study knot-tying and build camaraderie with other children whose parents or grandparents belong to UYC.
 
“I love seeing the kids come back each summer,” Reddaway said. “Seeing them grow up and gain more confidence on the water is amazing and rewarding. When some of them started out in the Optis (a small boat designed to introduce youngsters to sailing basics), they were hesitant to take the helm and steer. Now they’re handling boats solo and learning to sail farther and in bigger boats like our 420s, Sunfish and Lasers.”
 
Like Reddaway, Sam and Daniel grew up boating and sailing on Lanier with their families. “We started out with powerboats,” Sam said, “then Dad (Ed Gaito) purchased a Santana 20 and I crewed for him. Our whole family did race committee, too, and we just love to sail. My mom raced small boats growing up in Italy, so we’re a sailing family.” 
 
The Gaito family participated in weekend regattas and has been active at University Yacht Club for years. Ed earned his US Coast Guard certification as a captain and worked with Robert Estrada and TowBoatUS on Lanier for a number of years before moving to Florida. 
 
Sam is an incoming senior at Johnson & Wales in Miami, majoring in marketing and human resource management. She also works retail. 
 
The Postell family has been long-time members of Lake Lanier Sailing Club before moving to the Midwest several years ago. Daniel reflects about growing up sailing on Lanier. 
 
“I actually started sailing right out of the womb,” said Daniel, 21. “My parents owned a Pearson sailboat and they’d take me out with them when I was a baby. They said that they’d put me in the cabin below and I’d just go right to sleep.” As he grew older, he’d crew with his father Andrew on races, including those at Lake Lanier Sailing Club, where the family has a membership. “My dad and my mom Lisa did tons of big races so I just grew up with it.” 
 
Daniel attends school at North Idaho College. He spends his summers teaching sailing, not only at Lanier but through Sail Sand Point, a program based in Seattle where he coaches youngsters and adults in the finer points of sailing. He is studying accounting at North Idaho College. 
 
Sam sums up the feelings of the adults involved with the UYC Maritime Foundation Program. “I remember when some of these kids were five years old and cried because they were afraid to capsize their boats,” she said. “Now they’re just begging to go back out and sail and they’ve learned so much. My little babies became 10 and 12 year olds and they’re real people now. I love their confidence and spirit.”

Posted online 7/31/17
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