Coaches and Staff

Our program hires qualified and US Sailing Certified Coaches and Instructors.

The Olympia Yacht Club has had many wonderful, dedicated and passionate coaches throughout the years. All have contributed to the success and growth that our program continues to see. Currently the OYC Junior Program employs one full time Director/Head Coach, and a number of part-time Coaches to help with Fall and Spring Seasons. The OYC Boater Education Committee Chair is volunteer position within the OYC. The Chair and Committee oversee the hired Director and Coach.

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Sailing Program Director & Head Coach

Sarah Hanavan

Sarah Hanavan grew up sailing on Bainbridge Island, WA and graduated from Western Washington University in 2013. A competitor on the WWU Sailing Team Sarah was a Varsity Crew and Captain her Junior and Senior year. The Team qualified for multiple Women's Nationals and Co-ed Semi Nationals during Saran's time as Captain. She sailed on the WWU Co-ed Team who Qualified for and competed in the 2013 ICSA Semi-Nationals. Sarah has instructed and coached throughout the Northwest and on Treasure Island in San Francisco. US Sailing Level 3 Certified Coach, US Sailing Level 1 Instructor Trainer and a NWISA District Officer Sarah is a dedicated and passionate leader in the Northwest for youth, and collegiate sailing. 

An English and History Major, Sarah is an avid reader and writer. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiing and sailing with her partner Casey and their dog Kaze. Casey and Sarah own a Tasar that they sail competitively when Sarah is not coaching regattas! They are considering attending 2019 Tasar Worlds in the United Kingdom. 


Mary Fitzgerald, Volunteer Junior Committee Chair & Adult Sailing Instructor

Mary has been an integral part of the Olympia area sailing community for a long time. Mary grew up in the Midwest sailing Lightnings and Sabots on Lake Eerie and Michigan. She attended the Evergreen State College in the 1970s and got involved in the South Sound sailing scene when she taught college sailing classes on Evergreen's fleet of Alphas. She has been a member at the Olympia Yacht Club and the South Sound Sailing Society for many years. She started the well known and ever successful Women's Boating Seminar, and has helped the Junior Sailing Program in enumerable ways. Currently, as the Junior Chair Mary has led the program with passion, heart and a can-do attitude. 

Mary also plans, organizes and leads all Adult Sailing classes, often using her own boat as classroom. Many of her adult students have gone on to purchase boat, or become members of the OYC and the South Sound Sailing Society. 

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Adult Sailing Coordinator & Part Time High School Sailing Coach

Justin Hinchcliffe

Justin is an accomplished local sailor. He grew up in the San Juan Islands and settled in Olympia. Justin works full time as an Organic Chemistry teacher at North Thurston High School. He is also the OYC's Adult Sailing Coordinator and part-time High School Sailing Coach. Justin is the skipper of the local racing boat "McSwoosh" of which he has won many races and series. Justin has also raced and sailed: Stars, Finns, and Nacras. Justin is not only an excellent sailor, but is a wonderful teacher. He has been instramental in growing the OYC's adult programming as well as Coaching the Olympia High School Team in Keel Boats, leading them to ISCA High School Keel Boat Nationals sailed in J70s.

Justin loves to travel and race sailboats competitively! He would like to sail the Trans Pac or Vic Maui regatta in the future.


Casey Pruitt, Part Time Coach

Casey Pruitt is a full circle sailor; he grew up in Olympia, WA and learned how to sail right here with the Olympia Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. Casey Graduated from Western Washington University in 2013 and was a Varsity Skipper on the sailing team. He won his fleet in the District Qualifiers his Junior year, and placed second his Senior. His Senior year he qualified for and competed in the 2013 ICSA Semi-Nationals. Casey also competed in and won a number of Youth and Adult Laser regattas. He now concentrates on sailing and competing in his Tasar and keel boat events. Casey is also an avid wind surfer and kite boarder. Casey no longer Coaches sailing full time, however he Coached an Opti Race Team in San Francisco and was the Head Coach at the Olympia Yacht Club.

Casey is a Marine Scientist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and loves surfing, rock climbing, skiing, kite boarding, sailing and mountain biking. In his spare time he helps his partner, Sarah (they met on the Western Sailing Team) run High School and Middle School programs. They compete together in their Tasar and have a dog named Kaze.


Laura Smit, Former Coach

Laura, is also a full circle OYC Jr. Sailor. She sailed competitively as an Olympia High School Sailor building the team as a Captain, and attended College of Charleston where she sailed on their Collegiate Sailing Team competitively. Laura was our Race Coach Summer 2016, and has helped coach the High School Program extensively. 

Recently Laura transferred to the University of Washington where she is studying aeronautical engineering and sails competitively for the UW Sailing Team. Laura qualified for, and competed at the 2016 Inter Collegiate Sailing Associations Women's Single-handed National event in Galveston,Texas. Go dawgs!


Erik Brown, Former OYC Head Coach

Erik Brown moved to Olympia WA from Connecticut to attend Evergreen State College where he graduated in 2015. An avid wooden boat sailor and adventurer Erik has biked across the country, sailed from Mexico to California and recently finished restoring a Lyle Hess Cutter wooden sailboat named "Kirin". Erik coached the OYC High School Team and led the Summer Sailing program for 5 years. A consistent, thorough and incredibly knowledgeable sailor Erik has been, and is a great asset to the OYC Junior Sailing Program.  

You can find him moored on Bainbridge Island where he is put the finishing touches on Kirin before he takes her cruising.