About NYSS

The Northport Youth Sailing School’s goal is to provide young people the opportunity to experience the lifetime sport of sailing, in a safe and fun environment. As well as learning to sail, young sailors learn teamwork, self reliance, quick thinking, and a love of the environment. We are located in Northport, Michigan at the tip of the little finger.

Our History

The inaugural youth summer sailing classes were held in the refurbished visitors’ center close to the waterfront. The boats were borrowed from the Traverse Area Community Sailing program, purchased and even built from a kit donated to the school. Hundreds of hours of volunteer labor allowed us to open our doors for the first 60 students. Over the years, we have been able to add to our physical resources by building or procuring additional buildings to hold classes, boats, life jackets, etc. Through careful financial stewardship, generous donations, local grants and sponsorship, we were able to break ground on our current Boat House in 2015. Learn about our facilities

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Come Sail With Us

10 Years of NYSS


Our Leadership Team

2021 Board of Directors


Donna Chapman

Vice President

Andrew Neal


Cindy Black


Mike Cann


Fleet and Facilities

Jim Chapman, Chair
Don Webb
Bill Salter

Marketing and Apparel

Dana Connell


Mike Cann


Mike Cann
Mackenzie Goodling


Beth Hoogland, Chair
Cindy Black
Gloria Thomas

Fundraising and Sponsorship

Andrew Neal

Our Staff

Elsie Connell

Elsie Connell has been sailing since the school started in 2009. She began working at NYSS in 2013, and has earned both her US Sailing Level 1 and 2 Certifications. She completed her first summer as a full instructor in 2018. Elsie is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in both History and Political Science with a minor in Leadership Development at John Carroll University. When she isn’t studying she is competing on the varsity swim team and club sailing team. Elsie is very excited for another great season at NYSS sharing her love of sailing with others.

Drew Goodling

Andrew has been sailing at NYSS since the first season when he was an Opti sailor. He started working for NYSS as a Harbor mouse in 2014, to a Junior counselor in 2016 and then had the opportunity to earn his Level 1 Instructor Certification in the summer of 2019.  Andrew is working towards his Bachelors of Computing Sciences degree with a minor in Data Science at Grand Valley State University.  He is thrilled to spend his first summer as an instructor on the great waters of Northport Bay!

Ava VanOtteren

Ava VanOtteren began sailing at NYSS when she was 8 years old. She began working at NYSS in 2018 and in the Summer of 2021 she had the opportunity to earn her Level 1 Certification. Ava is a current senior at Grand Rapids Christian High School and will graduate in June 2022. Following high school, Ava plans on going to college but is undecided on where she will attend. Ava is very excited to spend her first year as an instructor at NYSS next season and share her love of sailing with others!