HURRICANE – The father-and-son team of Raul Hevía and Rocco Hevía have not only introduced, but revolutionized locally the rapidly-growing sport of sailing in Southern Utah.
Growing up in Puerto Rico, Raul Hevía spent his summers sailing. He continued that passion after having a family, acquainting his son with sailing on a trip through the Caribbean at age 4. He kept a sailboat on Lake Mead throughout Rocco’s childhood, until finding a Hobie Cat for sale five years ago.
“That was what I grew up sailing on,” Raul Hevía said. “I was interested in getting back into it, but there was no organized sailing in the area.”
He began posting on Craigslist and Facebook in an attempt to reach other locals with an interest in sailing. A group of five began gathering each weekend at the Sand Hollow State Park reservoir, and eventually the Sand Hollow Sailing Club was formed.
The club is now recognized by the Hobie Class Association of North America, has 20 consistent members and many more on its mailing list who have expressed interest in joining. It is sponsored by the City of Hurricane, the St. George Convention and Tourism Office, Murrays Sports, Roger’s Performance Marine and Zhik.
For an annual membership fee of $35, the club offers the Youth Sailing Program, which helps young sailors transition from recreational sailing to competitive racing (Rocco serves as the club’s Youth Captain), the New Sailors Program, which teaches beginners of any age the basics of sailing, casual weekly sailing meets, sunset and moonlight sails and “fun races.” Two summer programs, the Small Boat Sailing Boy Scout Merit Badge classes and the Youth Summer Sailing Camp, extend club hospitality to young sailors.
In June, the club will hold the Sand Hollow Sailing Classic 2013, the largest sailing event in Southern Utah history. Participation is open to anyone in Division 2 of the Hobie Class Association of North America and dozens of racers from Utah and neighboring states are expected. For more information on the club and upcoming activities, call 435-634-8106 or email [email protected].
“As long as there’s wind, we’re there,” Raul Hevía said. “It’s all about growing it for the community. We want to promote the sport.”
“Sailing is a great sport,” Hal Stead, commodore of the Sand Hollow Sailing Club, said. “Sailing can be relaxing but it can also be thrilling. Words and pictures cannot describe the beauty that can be encountered on the lake.”
Rocco, 12, is Raul Hevía’s only child and his sailing protégé. He learned the sport at 7, sailing with his father on a two-man Hobie Cat, and has since developed immensely in skill and strength. He began racing competitively in 2012.
Sailing alone on his 13-foot Hobie Wave, Rocco has competed in several events throughout the western United States. At his first regatta in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., he took fourth place in his division and fifth place in his second regatta in Big Bear, Calif. At least six races are on his schedule for the summer, and his goal is to qualify for the 2013 Hobie Youth Nationals.
Raul Hevía works closely with Rocco to improve his sailing skills. He recently began an intense physical fitness program that includes sailing practice every weekend, regular gym workouts, running and bicycling. Raul Hevía hopes to “graduate” him to a Hobie 17, a larger, faster and more technical boat, within the next two years.
“He teaches me to be a lot faster and better,” Rocco said. “And if I do better then I go further (in my division.)”
After competing at the youth level and finishing high school, Rocco hopes to earn a sailing scholarship and eventually become a professional sailor.
“He has a natural ability,” Raul Hevía said. “It could be a career for him.”
“Rocco is a great sailor and a great boy,” Stead said. “When I’m setting up my boat, he comes over and offers help. That’s not usually what 12-year-old boys do.”
A student at Tonaquint Intermediate School, Rocco’s other passions are his poodle, drawing, motorcycling and playing drums, the latter of which he said he might pursue a career in if sailing doesn’t work out. But the sport will always be a way to bond between father and son.
“Sailing is a family sport,” Raul Hevía said. “If we give both kids and adults an opportunity to develop themselves physically and mentally through sailing, we’re improving the community and our own lives.”
- Sand Hollow Sailing Classic: Shifting winds challenge skippers
- Sand Hollow Yacht Club’s final Dixie Cup Sailing regatta 2011
Email: [email protected]
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