Stari Grad Summer Sailing School: Three Girls in a Boat

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

Second guest blog from Martin Illner, who spends part of the year with his family in Rudina. Thanks Martin, and we agree that this sailing school is great!

This year, I looked forward to my annual trip to Hvar with more than a little trepidation. As a single father of three children, of which two small boys and one teenage girl, I had allowed the latter, Julie, to bring two of her classmates to make sure her pubescent angst didn’t impinge too much on my middle-age. But while the thought of driving twelve hours from Prague alone with five children scared me, the thought of chaperoning three teenaged girls with nothing to do for two weeks other than complain about the lack of internet, while my two small boys ran around underfoot, scared me even more. It terrified me.

Happily, in the course of calling around to find a place to store my two small RS sailing dinghies, I stumbled upon Petra and Bartul Plenkovic, whose mother is Stari Grad’s notary. This brother and sister team, both of whom are law students in Split, are more in love with sailing than they are with their legal tomes, and as far as I can tell, they’re spending all their free time and then some to keep the little sailing school opposite the Eremitaz restaurant in Stari Grad going strong. The location is beautiful, by the ancient St. Jerolim church, and it is a perfect place from which to launch their fleet of small boats. They have a dozen Optimists, a few Lasers, and now two RS Visions … and the tiny stone clubhouse is filled to the rafters with sails, sheets, life jackets and all the other paraphernalia that sailing requires. So my decision was made, and my (and my daughter’s) sanity would be preserved: The girls would learn to sail.

At first, the girls needed a little bit of convincing, since waking at 8:30 during the summer to be at the clubhouse by 9:00 is contrary to the rules, as my daughter explained: “Dad, you’re *supposed* to sleep late and do nothing in the Summer. That’s the purpose of summer.” After I told them they’d need to ride their bikes to the clubhouse, since for my part I intended to abide by the rules and not to wake up to drive them from Rudina, they needed more than convincing; they needed cajoling.

Happily , the need to cajole them (alright … to force them, really) didn’t last long: The first day they were more than a bit glum when they left for their lesson, the second day a bit less so, and by the third day they had eaten breakfast and rushed out before I had even cleared the sleep from my eyes. And believe me, seeing your jaded teenage daughter get excited about something is one of life’s small miracles. Another one is that the girls actually learned to sail, and to sail well. After 7 days of lessons (HRK 950,- for 3.5 hours over 7 days with all equipment provided), the girls zipped across the Stari Grad bay like America’s Cup yachtsmen. I was thrilled.

Petra Plenkovic has an amazing knack for working with children, and both she and her brother are being recruited to work as trainers for other sailing clubs because of their teaching skills. However, they are dedicated to Stari Grad, and to the small sailing club they are keeping alive with their own blood, sweat and tears, as well with their own money. Sailing is not an inexpensive sport, but the two siblings are doing their utmost to keep it accessible in the Stari Grad bay, not only for tourists like us, but for the Stari Grad school children who will keep this most fundamental of sea sports alive for future generations of local sailors.

Next year, my daughter and I will return. I look forward not only to her learning more advanced sailing techniques, but to my two young sons taking part as well. It was a great summer, and next year looks like an even better one with more family members joining Julie in the boats. We’ll be back.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment