According to Ryan Clark, the center’s sailing director and
high school sailing coach, Scott’s embrace of sailing is what
the new Siebel grant seeks to inspire in more local kids.
“The biggest shift happens when a young sailor goes from
‘I’m someone who sails’ to ‘I’m a sailor,’” he says. “That’s
when their skills and commitment go up a thousand percent.”
He’s enthusiastic about the center’s new challenge and
“I really love the premise of it, the Siebel program has a
unified curriculum and a pretty cool culture that’s super positive,”
including classroom time that helps kids to understand
what they’ve learned and plan for the next steps in advancing
their skills. Clark notes that there’s a significant challenge
as well: retaining the kids from economically disadvantaged
families when parents may not have the ability or time to
transport them to lessons.
Fortunately the sailing center has a head start on engaging
the community, including hosting families of fallen soldiers
through Operation 300, reaching out to kids living at Hibiscus
House, a school and residence for children in state
custody, and providing free visits for individuals bringing a
mentee through the Big Brother Big Sister program. It also
worked with boys from the Samaritan behavioral health facility,
which is now closed.
A recent Volunteer of the Year, retiree and longtime sailor
John Francis, says engaging kids from the community is so
much fun that the volunteers compete to participate.
“We fight over who gets to go,” he says, always enthusiastic
to share his passion for the sport. “I found my niche. We
affect lives through sailing. There’s nothing better.” E
Alison O’Leary is a freelance journalist, author, public speaker and
New England sailor.
Andy Campbell, 45, a Special Olympics athlete, is rising to the challenge
of learning to sail in a Success Sailing program for those who
PROJECT PROVIDES THRILLS AND CHALLENGES
FOR FUTURE SPECIAL OLYMPICS SAILORS
Despite the wildly busy regatta weekends, sailing lessons
and jam-packed kids’ camps at the sailing center there is
always room for more: Success Sailing is among the latest
new directions the center has taken to truly embrace the
principle of inclusion.
This program allows those with intellectual and developmental
36 Port St. Lucie Magazine
disabilities to experience the thrills and challenges
of sailing. Thus far there are about 10 individuals involved
but there’s potential for a much larger group, says its cofounder,
It all began with Campbell looking for new opportunities
for his son, Andy, 46, an accomplished athlete and Special
Olympian prior to moving from Miami to Sailfish Point.
“People with IDD must be continually challenged to
optimize their potential,” Campbell says.
Sailing, he points out, is a good exercise in decision
making and measured opportunity for independence while
on the water. Socialization with other people at the center
is icing on the cake.
Thus far, Success Sailing has purchased six stable Hobe
Wave catamarans, finagled twice weekly time slots at the
center and hired a sailing instructor, Kathryn Thorsen, but
its objectives are not modest.
They’re hoping to someday get sailors into the Special
Olympics. They’re off to a good start: after a year of
one-on-one instruction, Andy and another student, Henry
Hayden, are able to sail solo on calm days.
“I believe sailing amplifies the effect of participating in
the Special Olympics because of the opportunity and diversity
it gives the athletes,” Thorsen says. “With there being
five levels of participation, ranging from single-handed
to a three-person crew, sailing adds rigor and excitement.”
— Alison O’Leary
hope to compete in future Special Olympics.
As young sailors’ skills progress, the center offers many opportunities to
compete in regattas as well as to become instructors.