Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have served our country. For 24 military veterans, their injuries and medical conditions are not holding them back. For them, they are experiencing a new challenge, to learn the sport of sailing.
The Warrior Sailing Program (WSP) was founded with a mission to introduce active military and veterans with disabilities to the sport of sailing, with opportunities ranging from introductory level sailing to world championship competition. WSP will partner with the San Diego Yacht Club, and these organizations will be giving back the gift of competition, camaraderie and being a part of a unit.
Participants who need an inspiration won’t have to look far, as the Warrior Sailing Program’s co-founder is Jen French, a Paralympic medalist. “The goal is to share the spirit of sailing with our military warriors and to teach them skills on the water and for a better quality of life,” French said.
The program is offered at no cost to participants, with adaptive technology brought in by the WSP and sailboats provided by San Diego Yacht Club, who will be hosting the three-day program from June 7-9, 2016. The participants come from all branches of the military and have varying injuries that range from limb loss, traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to name a few.
“Being on the water, free from outside distractions, our Warrior Sailors are able to reconnect with others with similar backgrounds. Often when we talk to our participants they comment that their time in service was about the person to their left and to their right. Working together in small teams toward a common goal is a perfect way for our participants to revisit the camaraderie that was inherent in their military service.” Participants will sail together in teams of three on J-22 sailboats, with an on-board professional coach accompanying each team.
The Warrior Sailing Program Basic Training Camp returns to the West Coast, where San Diego’s favorable sailing conditions offer the perfect setting for participants to learn the sport. SDYC Commodore Doug Werner welcomes the return of the Warriors again this year.
“Among the many programs SDYC supports for the men and women who have served our country, the Warrior Sailing Program Basic Training Camp is unique in demonstrating the ‘can do’ attitude of its sailing participants. For those of us that sail at all levels, the effort these men and women make to improve our sport is truly remarkable. We are proud that they can enjoy the broad range of sailing assets at our Club and are impressed by their commitment and courage.”
Graduates from the Basic Training Camp will learn about local sailing opportunities and those in their hometowns. Select graduates will join the Warrior Sailing Team to learn advanced racing skills and compete in open and disabled racing events both across the country and around the world. More information on the Warrior Sailing Program can be found online at www.warriorsailing.org.