Adaptive Sailing at Courageous
These programs have produced regional, national and even world champions! At Courageous, members of these populations (mostly youth and young adults) gain a variety of physical, social, and psychological benefits, many of which are unique to the experience of sailing itself. While sailing in majestic Boston Harbor, participants build skills in teamwork, physical coordination, self-reliance, abstract thought, and leadership as well as technical knowledge of a dynamic sport.
Charlestown Adaptive Sailing Days
Courageous Sailing serves over 1,000 children each year. Each child has their own unique story and their own personal reasons for finding a passion in sailing. At our Adaptive Sailing Days, it's easy to see first-hand the wonders that sailing can bring to children with special needs.
In partnership with the Charlestown Waterfront Coalition, Courageous Sailing ran the second Charlestown Adaptive Sailing day off of the Shipyard Park water taxi dock in the Navy Yard. Children and families frequently come from Special Townies, a grassroots organization run entirely by volunteers serving children with autism or special needs, and their families, in Charlestown. For some, it's a calming experience. For others, it's electrifying as they eagerly hopped on board. For all, it can be a welcome escape from the day to day.
These outings have been an overwhelming success. As one mother noted, her son would happily sail all day if given the chance. Another mother noted that being on the water was just about heaven. However, perhaps the entire day could be summed up by one little boy's actions after getting off the boat. As his parents unclipped his life jacket, he burst into tears as he realized there would be no more sailing for him today. With summer upon us, Courageous Sailing and Special Townies are determined to give these children and their families many more opportunities to sail every summer.
For more information about Special Townies, check out their Facebook Page
SailBlind provides blind and visually impaired persons with an opportunity to learn the art and science of sailing. Blind adults and children can learn to sail through the adaptive methods developed by the Carroll Center SailBlind Program and through the abilities of sighted sailors who volunteer as sailing guides. No sailing experience is necessary for blind sailors to participate, while sighted guides must meet specific criteria.
Sailing sessions are conducted weekly for both recreation and racing sailors out of the facilities of the Courageous Sailing Center, Charlestown, sailing in Boston Harbor. Recreation Sailing Meets every Saturday; Competitive Sailing meets every Wednesday evening, throughout the summer.
Safety is of paramount concern in sailing and all participants- blind and sighted- must wear lifejackets while in the boat and on the dock.
Special Olympics of Massachusetts (SOMA) Sailing Program
The sailing teams of Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) have been appreciative guests of Courageous Sailing Center since the early 1990s. SOMA begins weekly practices shortly after Courageous opens for the season in May, using the sailing center’s fleet of 25 Rhodes 19s keelboats.
By late June each year, some fifteen or more teams from various parts of the state have honed their sailing and racing skills to compete in the Special Olympics Massachusetts Summer Games. Members of the Courageous staff volunteer to help run the regatta at the MIT Sailing Pavilion on the Charles River in Cambridge. Special Olympics sailors continue to practice at Courageous through September in preparation for the Rhode Island Special Olympics Invitational Regatta held at the Naval War College in Newport in the Navy’s sixteen Rhodes 19s. Teams from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia—and in some years New Hampshire and Maine—are represented. Massachusetts sailors have won the gold in the top division most years, and have enjoyed the welcoming hospitality of Special Olympics of Rhode Island and inner/dance parties following racing. Sailing is a “Unified Sport” in Special Olympics, meaning there are generally two athletes with intellectual disabilities as well as two coaches or “Unified” partners in each crew.
The Special Olympics sailors progress from level 1, where a partner skippers the boat over half the time and athletes work the sails, to level 2, where an athlete skippers over half the time. In level 3, there are three athletes who race the boat and one Unified partner who can only advise on tactics and strategy. If the partner touches a line or the tiller, the level 3 boat is disqualified! The goal is for the athletes to progress from crew to skipper, and from level 1 to level 3. We have seen the wonderful progression our athletes have made through sailing at Courageous, and the joy and selfconfidence they’ve gained from their new skills (not to mention the fun social aspects of SOMA sailing they enjoy).
With the support of Courageous Sailing Center, many Special Olympics Massachusetts athletes have progressed from their first sail ever to being competent and confident crew members and competitive skippers.