Longtime Alaska sailing instructor receives national award

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SEWARD, Alaska (KTUU) - A longtime instructor at Alaska’s only certified sailing school was recently named one of the top instructors in the nation by the American Sailing Association.

Randy Altermatt has been teaching sailing lessons at his Seward business Sailing Inc. for about 18 years and was recognized by the ASA as the “outstanding instructor of the year” for 2017. The award is given to instructors who receive high praise from their students.

“It was totally unexpected,” Altermatt said of the award. “There’s about a thousand of us out there in the world and they selected about 20 based on student evaluations to get this award.”

While the business opened in 1974, Altermatt and his wife Deborah purchased Sailing Inc. from its original owners 20 years later, shortly after they themselves took sailing lessons there. Altermatt became an instructor several years later, combining his sailing skill with his experience as a school teacher.

“I was a teacher for 27 years and a school principal, so that was kind of in my blood and background,” he said.

Now in his 18th year of sailing instruction, Altermatt says it’s patience that’s helped him build a strong relationship with his students over the years.

“To get to the point where I am today, you’ve seen it all and you can’t let too much of it bother you, so you have to be pretty patient with everybody,” he explained.

“It's been a very safe 18 years of instruction. Nobody's gotten hurt, nobody's done anything bad to speak of. About the worst thing that happens to me is parts on the boat breaking. That happens a lot.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story inaccurately referred to Sailing Inc. as Alaska's only sailing school. Juneau Youth Sailing in Southeast offers sailing lessons as well. However, Sailing Inc. is Alaska's only sailing school certified by the American Sailing Association.

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