Charleston Community Sailing, Inc. (CCSI) is a dream come to life for five fathers who wanted to promote an activity that was life changing for them and their family. With kids headed to high school they noticed that there are many people who have never walked along Charleston shores, nor taken advantage of the life lessons that sailing can teach. To help share the lessons they learned and with no programs in place, they formulated a plan to fill the void. They drew up a Charter, filed with the IRS for 501 C3 status and began acquiring assets for their venture; six 420’s donated by the Carolina Yacht Club, a floating dock from the College of Charleston Sailing Foundation, and dock space supplied by The City Marina. It was 1999. CCSI was up and running, focused on high school students ages 16 and up.
The first team, formed at Pinewood Prep in Summerville, was quickly followed by others. Today schools include Academic Magnet, Ashley Hall School, Bishop England, Charleston Day School, First Baptist Church School, James Island High, Mason Prep, Porter Gaud School, School of the Arts, Wando High School and the Citadel. Encouraged by the enthusiasm, CCSI reached deeper into the community, by teaching valuable life lessons to members of the Boys and Girls Club of the Trident area with “Buddy Sail”. This program pairs a child from the Club with a volunteer for an afternoon on the water while furthering the Boys and Girls Club’s mission; to instill young people with a sense of accomplishment, usefulness, and belonging. The partnership was perfect!
In 2005, CCSI became involved with Special Olympics, as James Island Yacht Club and CCSI launched the first South Carolina Special Olympics sailing team. Athletes were to be partnered for competition in regional events throughout the Southeast. In 2006, Sam Hazeltine, sailing for “Team Charleston”, was named Special Olympic spokesperson by the Metro Sports Council. In 2015, Kylie MacFarland and Ellinor Walters earned a spot to compete in the Special Olympic World Games. Charleston County Parks also partnered with CCSI to include sailing in the parks’ summer day camps, providing many low country youths and now adults, with their first exposure to the sport of sailing.
CCSI’s growing role as host to other organizations and competitions is a great source of pride. In collaboration with the College of Charleston Sailing Foundation and US Sailing, CCSI has hosted numerous events and classes at the local, district, and national levels. When it comes to sailing instruction, CCSI knows the ropes. CCSI sailors have advanced to sail on top ranked college teams including College of Charleston, St. Mary’s, Georgetown, Tufts University and UNC/Chapel Hill. Some have returned to CCSI as coaches. CCSI’s Jenny Gervais represented St. Mary’s College as a team member for the US Sailing 2005 World University Games in Turkey. Alana O’Reilly graduated CCSI programs to become 2006 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year and joined the coaching staff at Georgetown University. In 2011, Nick Valente won the US Sailing Junior Championship Singlehand, he currently attends SUNY Maritime College. In 2012, Avery Fanning started as freshman skipper at the United States Coast Guard. In January 2013 he won the Laser Full Rig division in the Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta and in May he was awarded Outstanding Male Freshman Athlete from the USCG Academy. CCS graduate Nancy Hagood, a Georgetown University sailor was awarded 2013 ICSA Women’s All American. Most recently, two of our high school sailors, Carter Cameron and Ian Dilling from Wando won the 420 North Americans held in Lake Geneva in July 2013, competing among sixty teams from across the United States. All of these sailors are local kids and your financial support is producing results.
In 2010, Charleston Community Sailing partnered up with ChYC to manage their youth summer program to run the largest summer sailing program in town. This partnership will continue in years to come and help CCS engage the lives of children ages 5 -18 years old in unique learning experiences through innovative programs to build character and promote a healthy spirit, mind and body. Our programs enable all participants to take ownership of one of South Carolina’s greatest natural resources – its waterfront, bays and oceans.