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Our Mission

White Bear Sailing School will engage in such activities that foster the knowledge, practice and the art of sailing at White Bear Lake among the youth and their families, both as a current and a lifelong activity.


Building the new sailing school

Building the current sailing school

Introduction   White Bear Lake has a rich history of sailing and boat building. While the iconic boat builders such as Amundson and Johnson Boat Works may no longer exist on the lakeshore, sailboat racing and sailing instruction on White Bear Lake continues. In 2016 the White Bear Sailing School celebrated 60 years of teaching youth the sport of sailing on White Bear Lake. The school, which is open to the public, offers sailing opportunities from ice out to late fall. The school has grown from an initial 25 students to about 300 per year.

Early Beginnings   A local sailor, W.G. (Bill) Graves, Jr., was the first to conduct regular sailing lessons for the young sailors from White Bear Lake in the 1950s. The first year he taught twenty-five students who met each Saturday morning during the summer. In 1959, Harvey Mills and Jock Irvine taught sailing lessons under contract with the White Bear Yacht Club. Doug Mills, in partnership with Jock Irvine, also taught sailing classes on White Bear Lake in 1965 and singly in 1966. At that point, the classes were no longer connected with the yacht club.

Art and Marian Johnson who were both area high school teachers became associated with the White Bear Sailing School in the mid 1960's. They ran the school for many years along with older graduates of the sailing school who returned home from college during summer. At that time, the school did not own any boats. Students used their own sailboats, used sailboats loaned by people on the lake, or were paired with students who had boats.

Incorporation as Non-profit   The school was incorporated as a public non-profit organization in 1980. This was the start of the school’s expansion to offer more classes and racing opportunities for area youth. It also enabled the school to begin acquiring its own boats through donations and fundraising.

Waterfront Classes   During most of the WBSS’s 60-year history, classes were held on the waterfront at the White Bear Yacht Club. Classes, high school practices, and regattas continue to be held there and are headquartered at the new Smokey Ordway Lakeside Pavilion constructed in 2013. The school’s fleet of 40 boats are kept there.

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Boats   Through the years, the school has taught sailing in 16-foot X boats, originally designed for youth in 1932 by Johnson Boat Works. In the 1990s, the school added Optimist Dinghies, built by Johnson Boat Works, to its fleet of boats. These 8-foot dinghies are used world-wide to teach younger sailors to sail and race. Another class of boat, the Club 420, was added to the WBSS fleet in 2007. It offered the opportunity to initiate a High School sailing program for our local schools to compete in the district, state and national High School sailing. Sailors from the White Bear Area have been state champions in recent years.

Past Student and Instructors’ Success   Several past student and instructors from the school have gone on to be sailing coaches at other sailing schools and yacht clubs. Andy Johnson has coached at the intercollegiate sailing team at the University of Hawaii since the early 1990s. Mark Dunsworth, former WBSS President, coached at several sailing schools and was Director at Minnetonka Sailing School. Katie Tinder coached at Severn Sailing Association, was the Sailing Director at Pewaukee Lake Sailing School in Wisconsin and in 2016 became sailing program manager at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. Dan Thompson is Sailing Director at Little Traverse Yacht Club and assistant sailing coach at Hobart College. David Thompson is assistant sailing coach at Dartmouth College.

Several past WBSS students have gone on to place very high in or win Inland Lake Yachting Association regattas, High School regattas, and college regattas.

Compiled by Jay Rendall

White Bear Sailing School

56 Dellwood Ave
P.O. Box 10865
Dellwood, MN 55115

Waterfront Director

Phone: 651-429-8395