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Olympia Community Sailing is a local nonprofit, driven by the belief that sailing, and the Puget Sound, should be accessible and inclusive to all. “So few members of our community are able to really interface with the Puget Sound despite our proximity,” says Sarah Hanavan, Olympia Community Sailing executive director. As they look towards the future, Olympia Community Sailing remains locked in to their goal of providing our community’s first ever community sailing center, a place where all community members are welcome and where education, access to equipment and marine stewardship all meet. In the meantime, you can connect with Olympia Community Sailing, year-round, through one of these opportunities.

Sail boat on the water at sunset
Sailing offers community members of every age the opportunity to access the natural beauty of the South Sound and connect with this ecosystem in ways we may never have before. Photo credit: Sarah Hanavan

Harbor Days

This Labor Day weekend, Olympia Community Sailing will join the community in saying farewell to summer at the annual Olympia Harbor Days Festival, September 1-2. On land, you’ll find their booth at The Plaza where you can sign up to win a wooden sailboat dinghy and buy swag featuring one-of-a-kind art by local artist Nikki McClure. Crafty kids can paint their own wooden boat.

While at their booth, make sure to sign up to sail the Sound. There are fast and tippy vessels or slower and more steady ones, depending on your comfort and thirst for adventure. Sailings last 30-60 minutes depending on weather conditions and while there is no fee, donations are always appreciated.

Learn to Sail Programs and Summer Camps

Olympia community sailing offers learn to sail opportunities year round for ages 6 and beyond.

an older man at the wheel of a sail boat, with two women seated on either side of the boat
Adult Learn to Sail programs are very popular and are led by Certified Captains. Sailors with these credentials are encouraged to reach out to Olympia Community Sailing to find out how they can get involved. Photo credit: Sarah Hanavan

“We began as a youth program,” Sarah points out, “so this is what most community members associate us with, but our adult Learn to Sail program is just as popular.”

In fact, the adult Learn to Sail program currently has a long waitlist. To teach these courses, instructors must be Certified Captains. Volunteers with these credentials are encouraged to reach out to Olympia Community Sailing to find out how they can support this incredible program.

Through each Learn to Sail program, community youth and adults learn not only the essentials of sailing, navigation and safety on the water, but also how to access their own fighting spirit. From the youngest Harbor Mice to the most skilled racer, there is a place at Olympia Community Sailing for anyone willing to learn.

a young girl lying sideway reaching out of a boat holding a red rope attached to a sail
Olympia Community Sailing offers year-round, Learn to Sail programs for sailors age six and beyond. While these courses cover all the basics of sailing and essential safety skills, they are also undeniably fun! Photo credit: Sarah Hanavan

Community Partnerships

“A boat is such a beautiful thing because it equalizes people,” reflects Sarah. “It can be modified to fit the sailor and crew.”

Olympia Community Sailing has had the pleasure of partnering with both the Olympia/Lacey chapter of Give Something Back and Thurston County Inclusion. Through these programs, community youth are invited to sail the South Sound waters, many for the first time, helping to trim sails, engage as a team, steer the boats and connect with the water and themselves in ways they never have before. Olympia Yacht Club, another partner, provides space and support for the nonprofit. South Sound Sailing Society provides donations and private keelboat racing opportunities for adults as well.

100-year-old vintage schooner sites at a dock with three sailboats full of people sail by.
Olympia Community Sailing summer camp kids drift by a 100-year-old vintage schooner. Photo credit: Sarah Hanavan

Olympia Community Sailing Race Teams

Olympia Community Sailing supports a variety of youth race teams in our community. These teams range in skills, experience and age. They are also the homeport for all the Thurston County High School Sailing teams. The High School Sailing team is a nationally ranked program with a legacy of success on the water and off with many alumni pursuing sailing at the collegiate level and beyond. Tryouts for the 2023-2023 season are being held August 29-31. Registration and more information can be found on the Olympia Community Sailing website.

When we connect with the waterways that nurture and support us, we learn to love them and we protect the things we love. Olympia Community Sailing’s dream of a community sailing center where we can all access the Puget Sound through education, equipment and partnership is unfolding each day as they connect and grow with the community around them through their Learn to Sail programs, community outreach partnerships and access to all mindset. We can support their vision and work through donations, volunteering and learning to sail ourselves!

Connect with Olympia Community Sailing in person, this Labor Day weekend, September 1-2, at Olympia Harbor Days Festival or visit the Olympia Community Sailing website anytime to learn more.

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