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After-school sailing club launches with 20 students, and 4 new boats, thanks to generous donations

Twenty students from San Juan, Lopez and Orcas Islands glory in the sun, the wind, and the sea on Griffin Bay twice a week with the Sailing Club at Jackson Beach. Because distancing occurs naturally between sailors in single-handed sailboats, this is a great activity for these students.

And as they say, it takes a village to make this possible, and many thanks are due. The program is sponsored by the SJI Sailing Foundation. Tuition for the fall program is $100, which doesn’t cover all expenses. This low cost and the availability of full and partial scholarships are made possible thanks to individual donors and a $1,000 matching grant from the San Juan Island Community Foundation (sjicf.org). The Sailing Foundation sincerely thanks them all for their support.

The Sailing Club launches from the far end of Jacksons Beach at the Net Shed. Use of this building is generously provided to the Sailing Foundation by the Port of Friday Harbor, and thanks go to the Port as well.

The Sailing Foundation made last minute arrangements and headed to Portland on Labor Day to pick up four new intermediate-sized boats. Many thanks to the Jack G. Raub Family and Verne Howard for donating two of these boats!

These new boats — RS Teras — are optimal for the many participating middle-school students. Older sailors use single-handed Lasers, which are popular on the racing circuit and with sailors from teen to adult. Two family groups are sailing together on Flying Juniors, the two-handed boats normally used in high school and college racing.

Coach Nige Oswald and Marina West are providing instruction. Nige is the president of the Sailing Foundation and a long-time sailor. Marina is a junior at Spring Street and has been racing since she was 9 years old. Visiting coaches will join Nige and Marina on the water as well. Participating students attend Friday Harbor Middle and High Schools, Spring Street International School, Griffin Bay, and home school. The Club meets Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3 pm to 6 pm, roughly. Sailing was cancelled last week due to unhealthy air conditions from the tragic fires in eastern Washington and Oregon.

Sailing resumes Tuesday Sept. 22 and runs through October. Sailing Club is open to middle- and high-school students with some dinghy sailing experience, such as having taken the intermediate or advanced sailing classes through Island Rec. Masks and distancing are required on land; no masks are worn when sailing for safety reasons.

The Sailing Foundation provides the boats, life jackets for anyone who didn’t bring their own, assistance rigging and launching, coaches, and safety boats. The San Juan Island Sailing Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to increase access to sailing by people of all ages and means. It is supported through individual gifts and grants, and run by an all-volunteer board of directors.

The Sailing Foundation is currently seeking funds to buy additional RS Teras both for the middle school students in the Sailing Club and in IslandRec’s intermediate and advanced sailing courses next summer.

Donations to the Sailing Foundation are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law, and are sincerely appreciated.


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