All Aboard! 3

Fore-and-Aft with Community Sailing of Colorado

An early morning breeze sends ripples across Cherry Creek Reservoir as a young lady pushes her Vanguard Optimist into the cool water. She climbs in, fastens the rudder, adjusts the single sail on the eight-foot dinghy, and the wind does the rest. Welcome to Day 4 of a week-long sailing camp held by Community Sailing of Colorado.

Yesterday’s stuffy yacht club, with its monied patrons and expensive boats, has been replaced with a new generation of enthusiasts eager to get out on the water and even more eager to help others experience the thrill of sailing. Community Sailing of Colorado (CSC) is one of hundreds of community sailing programs flourishing throughout the country. Colorado may be a landlocked state, but the sailors at CSC simply smile and ask: who needs the coast?

Sailing for All

Founded as a non-profit organization in 1994, Community Sailing of Colorado began with a mission to provide children with access to sailing. They later expanded and currently provide multiple programs for kids, adults and those with disabilities. Brandon Kass has been involved with sailing programs for almost 20 years and has been CSC’s executive director the past four years.

“We get kids hooked on sailing by being safe, having fun and providing instruction,” Kass declares. “When we do those three things kids come back as different individuals.” Community Sailing of Colorado reaches a wide demographic.

Kass is proud of the scholarship program, which assists students who might not think of sailing as something they could do.

“We want to eliminate the financial barrier to get students from all types of backgrounds involved with our program,” Kass says.

In 2011, CSC expanded its reach to offer lessons to students with disabilities.

“This was an important step forward for us, and in partnering with Craig Hospital we were able to make it happen,” Kass says. In 2014 CSC held lessons for 212 individuals with disabilities; this year they hope to double that number.

Volunteers Make it Happen

As with any nonprofit, the backbone of the organization is the volunteer force. CSC relies on more than 100 volunteers who do everything from prepping boats, fundraising and, of course, providing more than 500 students with lessons. Ken Hovland has been a Community Sailing volunteer for 12 years. An avid sailor himself, Hovland felt it was time to give back to the sport that had given him so much.

“I most enjoy watching students make progress,” Hovland states. “Some come to us not knowing the mast from the rudder but then we see their self-confidence build throughout the week.”

A Broad Reach Within The Community

Community Sailing of Colorado is thrilled to return to the prestine waters of the Boulder Rez this May for the second year, to host sailing classes to youth and adults. Last summer CSC shared the joy of sailing with nearly 200  children on the water.

“We aren’t taking kids for boat rides, sailing is our platform to build skills, foster confidence and make lasting experiences with every person who steps into one of our boats,” says Brandon Kass, CSC’s executive director.

Family Sail Nights in Denver

CSC will host three Free Family Sail Nights throughout the summer. Families can enjoy an evening at the Cherry Creek Reservoir to go for a sail, enjoy a cold drink and relax by the water.

“The success of our programs last year gets us really excited about the summer season and getting out on the water. It could be racing, cruising, or enojying an evening on the water, we’ve got something for everybody,” says Kass. The second Tuesday of June, July and August CSC will hold free a Family Sail Night for Denver area families to enjoy an evening on the water. “It’s a great way to learn more about the program, go for a sail, and cruise into the evening.”

Next-Generation Sailors

Thirteen-year-old Peyton Anne James has been sailing with CSC the past two years.

“It was very much her idea,” recalls Juli, Payton Anne’s mother. “After that first week-long camp she was hooked.” Juli wasn’t surprised, given her daughter loves the water and has an uncle who owns a sailboat.

For these students sailing leads to new places, not just physically but also mentally. This summer, Peyton Anne will apply to be a Junior Instructor, a small group of experienced students who play a key role in the instructional process.

This Year at Cherry Creek Reservoir

Partnering with the Cherry Creek State Park for 2015, Community Sailing has already begun sailing at the Cherry Creek Marina this spring with youth classes. Starting in May, CSC will offer spring sailing classes for Adults and individals with disabilities. “During the summer months, the action kicks up, we hope to see over 350 children sailing through our five-day sailing camps at Cherry Creek,” says Kass.

To learn more about sailing in Colorado, volunteer to help with a special event, or sign up for sailing lessons, visit CommunitySailing.org.