Robert Van Nuise was having a picnic with friends at a pond in Kissimmee when he spotted people on the water riding R/C sailboats.
When the group saw he was observing them, they invited him to come over and talk with them, as well as give him the opportunity to try sailing.
Van Nuise, of the Village of Glenbrook, was immediately hooked. He bought his own R/C sailboat kit and had it built by someone else.
“Off I went sailing from that,” Van Nuise said.
He actually joined the Kissimmee club in 2003 and now owns seven R/C sailboats. In The Villages, Van Nuise has continued his pastime. He currently serves as the commodore of The Villages R/C Model Sailboat Club. The club meets at Lake Mira Mar near the La Hacienda Regional Recreation Complex on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. For amusement, the gang sails out on the lake and competes in races.
Van Nuise became a member of The Villages in 2015. He maintains communication with the Kissimmee group and plans to meet with them for a regatta on a regular basis.
Van Nuise enjoys RC sailing for a variety of reasons.
“First of all, you get to meet and develop friendships with a lot of people,” he said. “There is a personal challenge and satisfaction of operating a boat efficiently and properly, and of course, it’s all the friendships you make.”
The organization has roughly 30 members, but just six to eight people have recently come out to sail on the lake.
Brian Engle has been a member since 2004. He was the group’s commodore from 2012 to 2016, and he thinks Van Nuise has done a good job in that role.
Engle, of the Village of Woodbury, had never tried R/C sailing before he joined the group.
“It mimics all the same attributes as a large boat, which I have had and sailed, and we use the same racing rules, so I enjoy the competition,” Engle said. He also appreciates how welcoming all of the members are.
“It’s all about having fun with other people,” Van Nuise said.