It’s not every day that you hear about philanthropists donating handsomely to the sport of sailing, but that’s exactly what happened recently in Galveston, Texas, where an (intentionally) anonymous family donated funds to build the brand-new Galveston Community Sailing Center (GCSC). The GCSC officially opened its doors in late October, in time to host the U.S. Disabled Championships (October 30-November 1), and a development/feeder regatta (October 27-29). In addition to hosting these high-level regattas, the GCSC also serves as a base for the Sea Scouts at the same time it provides opportunities for Galveston residents to actively participate in sailing and racing.
According to David Gaston, the Adaptive Sports Coordinator at the GCSC, membership is a requirement, but this sometimes-insurmountable barrier to entry is low enough that almost anyone can join: $400 and 30 hours of community service (or a flat fee of $600) buys a year’s membership for an individual, while $1,000 gets the whole family out on the water. “[The benefactors] are sailors, and they felt that sailing needed to be available for everyone,” says Gaston. “So they built this amazing facility. It’s fortunate for everyone [involved] that they stood behind [their beliefs].” Additionally, Gaston says, the benefactors had dealt with a family history of polio, and they had seen the benefits of the Shake-A-Leg Miami event, which inspired them to make their new facility physically accessible to everyone.
The GCSC currently has fleets of Sonars, Flying Juniors, Pearson Fliers (for match racing), a few Hunter keelboats and some Colgate 26s, as well as a 110-foot swift oil-field vessel, which is used to take students offshore and allow them to participate in STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research and education programs.
According to Gaston, these fleets were carefully selected to accommodate the widest swath of sailors. Classes are available for beginners, and regularly scheduled races offer fun for sailors of all ability levels.
Photos courtesy of Al Ruscelli