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“Nationals October 2019

Annapolis Sailing School celebrates 60 years

| July 20, 2019, 10:14 AM

Annapolis Sailing School, the first recreational sailing school for adults in the nation, celebrated its 60th year in business at its beautiful Bembe Beach location in Annapolis, Maryland on July 4, 2019.

“When I purchased Annapolis Sailing School five years ago, I was well aware of its legacy and high-quality sailing experience,” said Rick Nelson, who bought the school with his wife Jenny, a former School instructor, in November 2014. “I also loved the School’s secluded and convenient location just a mile by water from the United States Naval Academy.”

This legacy began in 1959 when Jerry Wood founded the School to combine sailboat rentals with proper instruction. As the School grew, Wood commissioned the Rainbow 24 training vessel, a safe, uncapsizable sloop, to hone the “Annapolis Way” of hands-on training supplemented by classroom instruction.

“60 years later, the School’s goal remains the same: to prepare as many folks as possible to enjoy Seriously Fun Sailing through a day sail on the Bay to an overnight on their own boat, or even a tropical charter trip. But the definition of ‘folks’ has evolved, and I knew we needed to infuse our program with new energy and ideas to serve what we like to call the ‘modern sailing family,’” added Nelson.

Indeed, much has changed at the School in just five years.

Updating the School’s fleet was a priority, resulting in the modernization of its Rainbow 24s®; the addition of two Beneteau 37s, four sleek new RS Zests and two Hobie Cats; and the introduction of paddleboards and kayaks for rent. Property improvements are quite substantial as well, including renovated bathrooms and new solar panels on the classroom and office buildings; the Sail Shed, an air-conditioned clubhouse with a big-screen TV and bar; a new 40-by-80-foot tent for weddings and events; new floating wooden docks and landscaping; and a large floating platform that helps protect Back Creek by attenuating waves – all against the beautiful backdrop of a newly-painted bright blue main building, which now doubles as a navigational landmark for sailors.

Nelson and his team have continued the forward-thinking programs of prior owners, from KidShip to Keelboat Club to Try Sail, and expanded upon them with unique options such as evening charter sails and yoga classes on its floating platform. They’ve also launched a new website, highlighted by its easy-to-use reservation system, and revamped the School’s social media accounts so the public can keep up with events, deals and photos.

“It’s been amazing to see Annapolis Sailing School grow so much over my decades of involvement with it, and I’m excited to be part of this next generation” said John Cosby, who started working there as a junior instructor in 1977 and now serves as its managing director.

The sentiment was clearly shared by all 175 anniversary attendees, who enjoyed congratulatory remarks from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley; presentations of $2,500 donations to both Brendan Sailing, a sailing program for students with learning differences, and Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a sailing program for people with disabilities, Veterans, and at-risk youth; a “Mariner & Mentor” award to Rick Franke for his tireless promotion of sailing through his board involvement and WNAV radio show; and fireworks from the City of Annapolis.

To learn more about Annapolis Sailing School and its offerings, visit or call 410-267-7205.

Severn Bank

Category: Boating, Businesses, LIFE IN THE AREA, Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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