Turning street kids into sailing kids

Published on April 9th, 2014

Anthony Sandberg, skipper, guru, storyteller and educator, host of weekly sailing “salons,” founder of a top sailing school in the East Bay, and adventure travel leader, believes that maneuvering a boat through rough seas is a metaphor for learning to sail through life.

Sandberg is now “adopting” an inner-city charter high school in Oakland with the idea of getting all of the students out on San Francisco Bay. Here is an excerpt from a recent interview in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Q: You founded the Olympic Circle Sailing Club, which has 50 boats and 80 employees. Over the years, more than 25,000 people have learned to sail there. Now you’re adopting the Envision Academy of Arts & Technology?

A: I met this young woman, Kirsten Grimm, Envision’s principal, and I was amazed by her. Oakland has a dropout rate of something like 50 percent, and Grimm had 100 percent of her seniors accepted at college last year. I’ve committed to getting Envision’s students sailing this year as a first step toward creating a sailing team at the school. My evil plan is that within two to three years, these young people will be competing with private schools and prep school kids – and winning.

Q: How will this be funded?

A: I’ll get funding, but I can’t be held up by that. My boat owners (at the Olympic Circle Sailing Club) are saying, “You can use my boat for free.” I went to my 45 instructors and they are saying, “Sure, count on me.” I’m going to ask members to put in $25 each. And I’m going to raise money. The program is going to be called East, for Envision Academy Sailing Team.

Q: How will this enhance the students’ lives?

A: I think fun is one of the biggest things. It’s something more than cold hard streets. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from sports. This will be a healthy thing for them to do. If they’re in a sailing gang, they’re just pushing water around. And if they get out and want to know how to go faster, or where the bay comes from, there are lessons in that. They can learn to sail and then offer their skills up anywhere.

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