Not a sailing capital for everyone

Published on August 28th, 2022

Barefoot and in borrowed life jackets, Jayden Hill and Rondell Franklin leaned back in their 12-foot dinghy, skimming alongside the sleek yachts and sightseeing boats of the Chesapeake Bay.

Neither had sailed before this summer, nor been so close to the Naval Academy’s rocky sea wall, the fenced-in luxury homes or the secluded private beaches of their unequal hometown. Yet as they let out their sails, turning back toward Annapolis, both boys looked as comfortable as if they were chilling on a couch.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Rondell, 14, a soon-to-be high school freshman who lives in one of Annapolis’s public housing projects. “When you play sports, you have to do everything at a certain pace. With sailing, you can go on your own and take your time.”

Sailing is like religion in Maryland’s capital, where children from well-to-do families learn early at exclusive yacht clubs the way kids elsewhere might learn to ski. But while Annapolis once had stretches of shoreline where anyone could fish or set sail, the small town now teems with tourists and nautically themed bars, its waterfront areas Whiter, wealthier, and less accessible than ever.

Jayden and Rondell’s mentor, Thornell Jones, is among those seeking to turn back the tide. Jones, 84, pulled together the money this summer to send them and two other boys to sailing camp at the Eastport Yacht Club, where Jones is one of the only Black members. The club contributed scholarships for four more kids to attend its $450-a-week camps, which sell out months in advance. And a nonprofit partnered for the first time with a sailing school to provide a week of training to a dozen children from Black and Latino communities. – Full story

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