wrap in lessons on safety, sail trim and boat-handling, etc., but it’s mostly about having fun on the water.” Another program CCS experimented with this past summer was its Optimist Racing Team, which Koenig says proved to be pretty popular with 9- to 13-year-olds. “We got the kids matching pinnies to wear over their life jackets and we scheduled the programs prior to the various open regattas.” Yet a further experiment took place when the organization offered open sailing classes to junior racers by providing a coach on a weekly basis. One day a week for 13 weeks this fall, the coach helped sailors—mostly high school students—perfect their racing skills and get more comfortable sailing the 420s. “That worked well for some of our high school sailors who don’t get enough time on the water, or those who don’t have a team at their school,” explained Koenig. “The high school teams we work with have anywhere from 10 to 30 team members, and since we only have 13 boats, not everyone gets as much time on the water as they might like. Having this coach available for that one day a week really helped us address that.” With so many successful initiatives ongoing, it would be easy to assume that CCS’s directors are content just to keep moving forward with their existing slate of programs, but that would be inaccurate. For Koenig and the board, one key project at the moment is raising funds to buy a new fleet of 420s. “We started the organization in 1999 with six 420s donated by the Carolina Yacht Club” she explained. “In 2003, the organization purchased 12 420s and donated the older boats to a start-up community sailing program in Georgetown, SC. Now, that same group may end up purchasing our current fleet once we’ve raised enough money to buy new boats. It would be wonderful to keep those boats in the state so that sailing could be offered to more South Carolina youth.” As if that weren’t enough, Koenig says that she’s in initial discussions with area nonprofits, hoping to bring back the Buddy Sailing program that CCS used to offer through the now defunct Charleston Boys and Girls Club. That pro-
CCS uses Optimist prams and OpenBics like these for its younger students. Photo courtesy Charleston Community Sailing. gram paired an underprivileged child with a capable sailor as a means of introducing that child to sailing. “That was a really positive program. We’d love to see it come back. There’s really nothing that compares to starting with a kid who has likely never seen the ocean and is afraid of the water and working with him or her to overcome their fears while using sailing as the vehicle to help them build that self-confidence. And then you turn around and hear them talk about how they can’t wait to sail around the world. That’s really powerful.” That’s the kind of power that’s inherent in sailing. And, if it were mined in the right way, those aforementioned pundits and industry leaders might end up with fewer issues to worry about. For more information about Charleston Community Sailing, log on to www.charlestoncommunitysailing.org.
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SOUTHWINDS January 2014