When racing everyone likes to be on the right side of a lift, and the US Sailing National Sailing Programs Symposium was on the right side. The NSPS, which concluded Saturday, is where passionate sailing program instructors and leaders go to inform and energize their upcoming season. We’ve attended a couple of times to connect with those who are on the front lines of the effort to give newcomers their first taste of sailing. The ‘lift’ came from an impressive list of dedicated sailing instructors, program managers, boosters and Olympians.
This year’s gathering was held in the sailing ‘mecca’ of Austin, TX, which, despite being landlocked, offers sailing nearby at Austin YC on the Colorado River, while other venues in the state are currently covered in ice.
NSPS drew a talent-rich crowd, including the three women pictured above: Olympian Cory Sertl from Rochester, NY, plus two from California, Olympian JJ Fetter from San Diego, and, in the center, recent Olympian and St. Francis YC member Helena Scutt, who finished 10th in the 49erFX at the Rio Olympics. Scutt is currently working on her master’s in mechanical engineering at Stanford, while aiming for the 2020 Olympics in the Nacra 17 with Olympian Bora Gulari. She received a standing ovation for her keynote talk on Making Change and Paying It Forward. Five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the year Betsy Alison was there too.
The energy of instructors who care about kids, care about teaching, and care about sailing is always inspiring. But most importantly, the expertise of the sailors on hand in mentoring the next generation of instructors was truly uplifting.