Partnerships for Growth

Published on November 3rd, 2014

It’s easy to assume that Sail Newport’s remarkable success is a result of location and tradition. After all, Newport, R.I. is a sailing town. However, Brad Read, Sail Newport’s Executive Director, identifies the nexus of their success as the strong public/private partnership forged by forward thinking state officials and the visionary founders of Sail Newport.

“The State’s willingness to grant an affordable, long-term lease on an old army base is at the center of our story,” said Read. “It’s really encouraging to see that other states, cities and counties are catching onto the fact that designating waterfront areas for public recreation and public access translates into economic growth and vitality.”

It also translates into growth for the sport of sailing.

“We put nearly 10,000 people out on the water every year,” said Read. “On any given weekend, we are running a regatta, perhaps in the middle of our youth sailing program, and teaching learn-to-sail programs for adults at the same time. We rent out 1,100 sailboats annually, and if you figure two to three people per boat, that alone puts 2,000 to 3,000 people in a sailboat every year.”

Sail Newport offers affordable sailboat storage for one-designs, regatta management, as well as public access learn-to-sail and advanced racing programs. Their business model is designed as a self-perpetuating circle.

Read said, “We offer dry land storage for one-design sailboats which brings great sailors to our facility who inspire the kids. These young sailors grow into crew for our storage customers, get hooked on sailing and ultimately become future boat owners who pay storage fees to support the next generation of young sailors.”

Forging partnerships with yacht clubs around Narragansett Bay is another example of Read’s circular strategy. The Brenton Cove Racing Program and R.I.O.T. (Rhode Island’s Opti Team) brings talented young sailors together to train regardless of club affiliation. The Optimist Program is managed out of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the doublehanded program is hosted by Sail Newport.

“The Brenton Cove Racing Program is completely blind to affiliation,” said Read. “It’s just about supplying access to the same coaching and opportunities to compete.”

Read believes that through sailing, people of every age become better citizens. At public community sailing programs, sailors are steeped in a culture of volunteerism and contribution, planting the seed to the habit of giving back.

Source: US Sailing

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