Community sailing brings joy to all
Published on August 28th, 2023
by Jessie Sordahl
Olympia Community Sailing is a local nonprofit, driven by the belief that sailing, and the Puget Sound, should be accessible and inclusive to all in Olympica, WA. “So few members of our community are able to really interface with the Puget Sound despite our proximity,” says Sarah Hanavan, Olympia Community Sailing executive director.
As they look towards the future, Olympia Community Sailing remains locked in to their goal of providing the area’s first ever community sailing center, a place where all community members are welcome and where education, access to equipment and marine stewardship all meet. In the meantime, locals can connect with Olympia Community Sailing, year-round, through one of these opportunities.
“We began as a youth program,” Sarah points out, “so this is what most community members associate us with, but our adult Learn to Sail program is just as popular.” In fact, the adult Learn to Sail program currently has a long waitlist. To teach these courses, instructors must be Certified Captains. Volunteers with these credentials are encouraged to reach out to Olympia Community Sailing to find out how they can support this incredible program.
Through each Learn to Sail program, community youth and adults learn not only the essentials of sailing, navigation and safety on the water, but also how to access their own fighting spirit. From the youngest Harbor Mice to the most skilled racer, there is a place at Olympia Community Sailing for anyone willing to learn. “A boat is such a beautiful thing because it equalizes people,” reflects Sarah. “It can be modified to fit the sailor and crew.”
Olympia Community Sailing has had the pleasure of partnering with both the Olympia/Lacey chapter of Give Something Back and Thurston County Inclusion. Through these programs, community youth are invited to sail the South Sound waters, many for the first time, helping to trim sails, engage as a team, steer the boats and connect with the water and themselves in ways they never have before. Olympia Yacht Club, another partner, provides space and support for the nonprofit.
Olympia Community Sailing supports a variety of youth race teams in the community. These teams range in skills, experience and age. They are also the homeport for all the Thurston County High School Sailing teams. The High School Sailing team is a nationally ranked program with a legacy of success on the water and off with many alumni pursuing sailing at the collegiate level and beyond. – Full story