Kids Sail with the Stars in Boston

When kids grow up sailing on the Charles River in Boston, it’s easy for them to assume that the breadth of their sport stops there. That’s why, every summer, Boston’s Community Boating Inc. (CBI) brings in a fleet of sailing “stars” to crew for their outstanding students in the annual Kids Sail the Stars event. The formula is simple: the most dedicated junior sailors are the skippers, and the area’s most inspiring Stars are the crew.

“Kids Sail the Stars is a way to thank these kids for being so dedicated to the summer program,” says Junior Program Director Amy Lyons. “It’s also about inspiring them to see the long-term possibilities of sailing.”

In meeting these Stars, whose sailing accomplishments range from college championships to Hall of Fame coaches to trans-Atlantic passages, the students are introduced to the avenues that sailing could someday take them down.

This year, Amy Lyons and her assistant Roswell Thomas recruited 22 Stars from around the county. At the skippers’ meeting, each was introduced to one or two beaming junior sailors and assigned to a Mercury. The kids rigged the boats excitedly, beaming at the opportunity to show off their skills to these talented mentors. Though the skies were grey on that summer afternoon, the kids’ smiles were bright.

Stars Brandon Keao, Joe Moore and Brian Williams all grew up sailing at CBI together. Keao went on to become the captain of his college sailing team, Moore became a full-time sailing coach/instructor and Williams gained notoriety among the kids as the sailor who allegedly “jumped the island in a Sonar.” The laughs between these reunited sailors illustrated that this day meant as much to them as it did to the kids.

“I try to come back every year for this event,” says Keao, looking around at his old friends. “There were many summers when we felt like the kings of this dock, and I love watching kids do the same.”

As the boats raced around the course in the warm drizzle, parents and siblings crowded onto anchored Sonars to cheer on their favorite skippers while CBI staff members dished out race commentary. They cheered as Ron Sandstrom, a former U.S. Olympic Star team member, sailed past, and as Brad Churchill, an Intercollegiate Sailing Coaches Hall of Fame member from Boston University, finished in third place, despite the fact that he’d sailed rudderless.

The racing was followed by a barbeque and an awards ceremony in which teams took home hand-painted glassware to match the hand-made shirts that staff members had silk-screened the night before.

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