Over 300 supporters came out to honor the American skipper Rich Wilson on on April 7th for his contribution to American sailing and youth education. Wilson, the 60-year old skipper of Great American III and math teacher from Boston, is best known for his participation in the 2008-9 Vendee Globe race, where he finished 9th after 121 days. But the skipper's credentials also include records of the clipper ship routes between San Francisco and Boston, New York and Melbourne, Hong Kong and New York, and Plymouth and Boston.
Wilson spoke to the crowd of Courageous supporters about his struggles with asthma, weather, loneliness, and personal injuries during the hour, showing video footage of the adventure that he himself shot. And while Wilson made no guarantees that he would in fact participate in the 2012 race, he did state that if a perfect storm of sponsorship between the AARP, the American Lung Association, and international educational program outreach were achieved, he would be hard pressed to stay on shore.
Wilson’s affiliation with Courageous Sailing comes through both personal connections and the interest in using sailing as an experiential, multifaceted platform in which to educate children and young adults. Since 1987, the center has worked to educate thousands of at-risk and disadvantaged children in the Boston area. A common sight on Boston Harbor, Courageous' Rhodes 19s and J22s are so in demand that the waiting list for the program is currently over 600 students. Similarly, Wilson’s company Sites Alive has been educating students through multi media interaction since 1990, when Wilson followed the clipper routes from San Francisco to Boston in a 60ft trimaran, Great American II.