Macatawa Bay Juniors Association

About Us…

Back in 1982, a group of local sailors had the vision for an organization that would promote junior sailing and create opportunities for both members of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club (MBYC) and youth in the Holland community who were interested in sailing. This shared vision, along with a couple of borrowed sailboats, became the birth of Macatawa Bay Junior Association (MBJA). At the time, there wasn’t even an instructor boat, yet the organization held the course and began to grow.

Over the past 40 years, MBJA has enabled countless participants and graduates to learn the joys and thrills that come from sailing on the open water. For many, this has even become more than a sport or activity – sailing has become their way of life.

A Dependable Resource for the Holland Sailing Community

With the help and financial support from MBYC and the Holland sailing community, our association has instructed graduates who go on to achieve great things, like becoming collegiate All-Americans, joining the U.S. Optimist Dinghy International Travel Team, and competing internationally in the Laser Radial and 420 class. With that said, we consider the most significant impact of our program to be the number of kids who graduate with sound, water safety fundamentals and a lifelong love of water and sailing.

If you are looking for an example of the impact junior sailing can have on a young person’s life and the importance of this investment in our youth, you need look no further than the chairman of our own board of directors, Steve Sisson. Steve was one of the early graduates of the program, and now he works diligently to ensure its growth and legacy.

MBJA’s Bright Future

Our new director, Marie Mell Colville. A winning collegiate athlete and coach, Marie is a top women’s sailor in MBYC’s JY15 ladies racing program, and in recent years, she campaigned her own Melges 24 in a plethora of Holland-area races. In the off-season, Colville has served as a Reading Specialist and Teacher for the past 24 years in Holland and Orchard View Schools.

In addition to Colville’s appointment, we also welcome Alina (Ali) Swets as our new Assistant Director! “Coach Ali” is also well known at the MBJA having been a sailing instructor for the last 5 years. A dedicated member of Wednesday night S2.79 race crew, Wolf Pack, Swets also plans to double-hand the Queen’s and Tripp Cup this summer with another former MBJA coach, Lexi Petter. Swets is involved with the Magenta Project, an organization dedicated “to developing pathways and generating opportunities for women in performance sailing,” and in 2019 was part of the first all-women crew to compete in the 5-day Rolex Middle Sea Race around the Italian island of Sicily.

Learn-to-sail instruction is only one of the valuable services MBJA provides. We also field “Team Macatawa” (a sailing team that competes in regional events during the summer) and maintain our fleet of Optimist Dinghies, Club 420’s, Lasers, J22s and M17s.

Through the MBJA, you can trust that the future of sailing will continue to be assured – one child at a time.

No matter if you are one of the many graduates now a part of our sailing community, or you’re simply interested in learning what Macatawa Bay Junior Association is all about, we are glad to have you onboard! To learn about how you can help our association help young sailors, please see our Donations page.


Our Board Members

We are lucky to have a great group of volunteer sailors sitting on our board to provide us with direction and work on fundraising efforts.

  • Michael Norris
  • Roger Gamache
  • Juli Petter
  • Kelly Cramton
  • Lou Moran
  • Lou Nykamp
  • Mitch Padnos
  • Susan LaFontaine
  • Doug Petter

US Sailing Logo
US Sailing
MBJA is a proud member of US Sailing.

Macatawa Bay Yacht Club
P.O. Box 207 Macatawa 49434

(616) 335-5815

Since 1982, the MBJA Sailing School has operated on the grounds of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, serving the Holland community as a 501c(3) non-profit sailing school.

Since 1982, the MBJA Sailing School has operated on the grounds of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, serving the Holland community as a 501c(3) non-profit sailing school.