Sailing community making a difference
Published on August 14th, 2019
Not every child is dealt a winning hand, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. Organizations exist to help children succeed in life, and when combined with the empowerment of sailing, well, lives can change. Mike Beuerlein submits this report:
Every year since God was a boy, catamaran sailors have known that the first Saturday of August means withering heat, light wind building to a nice afternoon breeze, warm fresh water in Lake Travis and hundreds of kids clamoring for sailboat rides at Windy Point Park in Austin, Texas.
When I attended graduate school at University of Texas in the mid-80s, the local Hobie Fleet 64 had been holding Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Take a Kid Sailing Day for longer than anyone could remember. When I returned to Austin in 1996, after being a Big Brother myself in Atlanta, I took over the management of the event and have been running it ever since.
It’s an easy sell. The multihull fleets, both the local catamaran fleet AustinCats and the Austin Yacht Club enthusiastically support the cause with 13 catamarans this year and, now that three trimarans are also participating, kids are getting all the sailing they want. I took several riders this year who’ve returned each year for their favorite boats and several who had never been to the lake before, much less on a high-performance racing catamaran!
Of course, everyone gets a chance to get out on the wire, helm the boat, and adjust the sails. Their favorite role is usually shooting the water guns at the other boats, however, there are a few that are reluctant to give up the tiller when it is time to come in.
This year, Phil Bautista brought two large inflatable floating platforms that were anchored in waist deep water so that the kids could more easily climb aboard the catamarans while the trimarans used the T-head dock near the sailboat launching ramp.
Terri Reuwsaat, our beach captain emeritus and Austin Yacht Club volunteers, John Kuc, Theresa Meyer, Kurt Carson, Elizabeth Quintanilla, Linda Asaf, plus many others helped catch the boats with assistance from scores of volunteers from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, all of whom were able to play in the water with the kids as they waited for rides.
Travis County Parks has also provided free admission to Windy Point Park (normally $12/car) for all the participants through the years, despite the growing crowd size and the understandable envy from the paying guests.
After a full day of sailing with 350 people and 200 rides, AYC then hosts an after-party for all the sailors and volunteers with ice-cold watermelon, chicken and seafood gumbo, jerk chicken, rice and black beans plus plenty of frozen Bushwhackers, Cuba Libres, and cold beer!
What more could you want (see photos)? Bring your multihull out next year to join in the fun!
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