One thing was routine in Jack Lischer’s summer vacation: sitting on his parents’ dock on Lake Perry in Lenexa, waiting to sail his dad’s heirloom 420cm class dinghy.
Since he was four years old, Jack has been sailing alongside his parents on the lake, making sure to master every sail turn and body stance, while also having fun spending time with his family
When he entered middle school, he soon started taking his friends up to the lake for them to experience the wind blowing through their hair while laughing with their friends .
“I just wanted to hang out and get them involved in something I love,” Lischer said.
Because of their love of sailing, Lischer and seniors Michael Spivach, Quincy Eastlack and junior Charlie Wolf created a sailing club at East in 2017. They don’t have a club sponsor or scheduled meetings after school, but they do have regular practices and meets accompanied by some “pretty awesome club T-shirts” according to Eastlack.
During the summer sailing season, April through September, the club heads up to Lake Perry to catch rays and chat about crazy anecdotes of wind-related injuries – like when Eastlack took senior Quin Napier out to sail and he ended up breaking his nose. Their days continued with exciting races and sail until the sky is purple and the sun is almost gone, with the added bonus of extra practice for weekly meets every Saturday.
“It’s just a couple friends hanging out, sharing their love of sailing,” Eastlack said.
The club has the chance to participate in races hosted by Kansas Youth Sailing, a non-profit sailing foundation focused on supporting high school, collegiate and adaptive (or disabled) sailing. The goal is to make it a more visible sport throughout Kansas as well as the nation, according to president Ted Lischer.
The sailing foundation was founded four years ago in part by Lischer’s dad, Ted Lischer, who is now the president. They have set up opportunities for young sailors around Kansas to compete against each other and become friends, pairing comradery with competitiveness.
These opportunities have allowed the team to compete in races like the Junior Olympics Festival, a regional competition where they represent East against against high schools from across the Midwestern area.
“I remember standing at the starting line with the chaotic wind in my face, studying all 100 boats about to race,” Lischer said.
As they have progressed through years of maneuvering masts and working with winds, they are now becoming trainers to young aspiring sailors.
The team has gone from trying to perfect the perfect angle into the wind to making sure they score the best in the sailing nationals at Shawnee Mission Park, to training young nautical aficionados. This year they are even refurbishing and repairing a sailboat for racing that will help accommodate people with disabilities.
Last year, Jack was one of the first instructors in the Midwest to help put a person with disabilities into a racing boat and teach them how to sail. Now, Jack spends most of his time at the lake teaching people with disabilities the very techniques his dad taught him at a young age.
“It’s fun teaching the kids so they can enjoy sailing as much as I do,” Lischer said.
With the help of his dad, Lischer has been working in his spare time to help prepare and polish their newest addition to their slew of racing boats: an adaptive 420-centimeter racing boat. There Prairie Village neighbors can see them in their driveway with a rag in one hand and polisher in the other working to help incorporate all walks of life into the world of sailing.
“We do this because anyone that wants to sail, can,” Lischer said.