We are Steve and Sara Eliasen, founders of International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh (IYSO).
We are passionate about sharing our love of sailing and our love for the Great Lakes and their waterways!
Our goal is to provide easily, accessible opportunities to experience both. In addition to building International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh over the past 14 years, we have been fortunate to be instrumental in launching Green Bay Sail & Paddle, as well as working closely with Sail Sheboygan.
Our official Mission Statement:
International Youth Sailing is a non-profit educational/recreational organization dedicated to enriching the lives of area youth and their families by creating water and winter sport opportunities that introduce them to the enjoyment and sense of well-being, as well as the STEM, environmental, and life lessons that these activities offer.
Using our quick-start method of basic sailing instruction, participants learn to sail competently within their first hour. From there, we offer opportunities and outcomes, from a sense of serenity/empowerment, to the thrill of racing, to understanding the science and math of sailing, to a greater appreciation for our environment. We offer sailing as a vehicle to a wider horizon in the lives of our participants.
2021 marks our 14th season for providing our quick-start Recreational Sailing Instruction and Open Sail (practice opportunities) to students of all ages and abilities!
Over the past 13 years, our students have come to us through
In fact, because our sailing program is part of the 4th or 5th grade curriculum, Oshkosh is one of three places in the world where all public school 4th or 5th graders learn to sail! The other two places are Bermuda and New Zealand! We average approximately 1000 students per summer!
We and our staff are looking forward to meeting you and to a great sailing season!
See you on the water -
Steve and Sara
International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh Hobie Wave catamarans at Menominee Park Beach in Oshkhosh.
Our longest/strongest supporter, Jason currently serves as our Board VP. Although he has sailed all over, on all types of boats, Lake Michigan is Jason's home playground. Jason has been instrumental on the Board of Sail Sheboygan and currently serves on the Board of the Sailing Education Association Sheboygan (SEAS).
Currently serving as our Treasurer, Anne loves every aspect of Nature. Anne is an avid gardener, Cat Mom, Chicken Mom, hiker, kayaker and all around great sport who loves a good adventure.
Our Renaissance Man/Secretary, Jerry has crammed lots of adventures into his life, and is happy to swap stories! He worked with us for Green Bay Sail & Paddle, and in this photo, he is sailing on Lake Washington, near Seattle. Jerry's a certified Sommelier and an avid reader who loves to discuss good books.
Dr Eric Smiltneek has been pushing his tiller toward trouble on Miller’s Bay for the last decade. He is committed to loading his Getaway with as many novice sailors as he can find. When on a boat with Dr Eric expect the unexpected, but be ready for a fun ride. Dr Eric is thrilled to bring sailing fun to 2021.
Layla Smiltneek is may be young, but has experience sailing many small boats. From Opti and X boats at the Oshkosh Yacht Club to Bics, Hobie 14s, Waves, and Getaways, Layla is comfortable with most things that float on water. She is also great at helping nervous rookies not feel like a fish out of water. Layla is excited for new adventures in 2021.
Gus Smiltneek is one cool cat. He is so comfortable around boats that he can sail them with his eyes closed. He is not always the most reliable, so you may not see him at every session, but when he is around you will be assured of a day of leisure on the water. Gus is looking to be chilling on the bay in 2021.
Max is one of our Lead Instructors/Safety Boat operators this season. He has achieved his SafeSport certification through US Sailing. He has worked for IYSO in the past, and is looking forward to returning to the water and sailing as much as he can before college starts in the fall!
Rose Bunker is one of our Safety Assistants. She first started sailing 3 years ago and has been in love with it ever since! She likes being out on the water listening to the waves and trying to find wind when the wind decides to stop blowing or change directions! For Rose, it is always a fun day out on the water.
Melissa is our self-proclaimed "Shore Sheriff." She remains on shore, keeping us safe and ship-shape with all the details of each session. Terry (aka Moose) is a Navy guy - perfect qualification to help us out as a Fleet Leader and Chief Boat Hauler. We could not exist without either of them!
Born in a small town on Lake Superior, Deb is a true Great Lakes Girl by birth and by heart. Not only is she our partner through her coffee roasting venture (Lakeshore Coffee Company), she has completely embraced "getting people on the water to re-charge mind, body and spirit!"
Chris has been a core team member since 2015, when he began volunteering with our School Sailing sessions. He has served as an instructor and Safety Boat driver, among other things. He, and we, fell in love with Denise, an avid sailor and kayaker, through our involvement with Green Bay Sail & Paddle, and the adventure continues!
We are proud of our fleet of Hobie Wave catamarans!
Catamarans have two hulls (that is why they are often referred to as "multi-hulls") and were originally designed long ago in ancient times by Pacific Islanders (think Moana!) to be steady, fast and beachable.
Their design was updated and brought to new life during the Sixties' surfing/sailing scene in California by a sailor named Hobie Alter. You can catch a bit of that "California Dreamin'" vibe in the colorful , playful look of Hobie sails.
There are different sizes and innovations to the Hobie - 14s, 16s, 18s, and Getaways, to name a few.
We like Waves because beginners find them to be easy to learn on! Steady and forgiving of mistakes, they don't feel "tippy" yet they are responsive and buoyant. As students improve their sailing skills, they find they can race and have fun sailing fast!
Another great feature for sailing in our sometimes cold water is that students don't get quite as wet because they rarely capsize (tip over)... well, unless they want to! :)
International Youth Sailing provides sailing lessons on Hobie Wave catamarans in Millers Bay.
Once beginners have learned the basics of sailing on the steady catamarans, they want to try sailing a "monohull" (one hull), and since the principles of boat handling are pretty much the same for any sailboat, it is not hard to make the switch to a "tippy" boat like our O'pen Skiff (formerly known as "O'pen Bic").
This is basically a youth sailboat, but it actually fits sailors of many sizes. It's fun because you can get go fast enough on this boat to plane! It is so light-weight and nimble, easy to rig, yet never needs bailing... on a hot summer day, there is nothing better than sailing fast and then capsizing one of these! You'll see!
IYSO features the youth sailboat called the Open Skiff. This boat goes fast enough to plane!