Kevin Cody

Best Sailing Lessons: South Bay Sailing

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Wes Houston with one of the 26-foot J80s he teaches students to sail.

Wes Houston with one of the 26-foot J80s he teaches students to sail.

Wes Houston was in the 6th grade visiting a friend’s home when the friend’s dad got mad at his son, took the two sixth graders down to King Harbor and pushed them out to sea in a sabot. Houston had never sailed before. He hasn’t stopped since. When he was 16 he bought a Hobie Cat and a trailer, even though he couldn’t afford a car. By 17 he was teaching sailing through the Redondo Parks and Rec program. Ten years later he founded South Bay Sailing in King Harbor.

Fundamental to learning to sail, he said, is time on the water. “During the first lesson, we rig the boat and are on the water within 20 minutes,” he said. Lessons are taught on 26-foot J 80s, a racing class sloop whose sensitivity, like a sports car’s, gives students rapid feedback, he explained. Students range from kids to retired people who finally have the time to enjoy sailing the boats they long enjoyed just watching. Lessons are offered daily, year round, with kids day camps during the spring and summer.

Redondo Beach Marina. (310) 384-8457. SouthBaySailing.com

Runner-up: Marina Sailing: 819 N. Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach. (310) 318-2772. MarinaSailing.com.