Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Help a Grassroots Sailing Organization

Not knowing how well publicized the fire at the University of New Hampshire boathouse has been, I want to publish this this letter from the team captain. All boats, equipment, and the boat house are a total loss.

This is exactly the kind of grassroots sailing organization that has been praised in this blog and several others. They support sailing every which way in their array of programs. If you can help them, please do. They are very worthy of our support.

From Chris Edwards of UNH's sailing program:

As some of you may not know, on March 3, 2010 the UNH Sailing Team's boathouse was set fire to, and all the equipment inside had been destroyed. The structure at the pond sheltered over 55 sailboats (Opti's, Lasers, Sunfish, Club 420's, FJ's), outboard engines, trailers, coach boats, tools, and other gear, all of which were lost in the fire. Estimates have been upward of $600,000. State Fire Marshall's Office has ruled the fire was incendiary, or intentionally set. The police are still investigating who started the fire.

We are still unaware of what type of insurance will be awarded as well.

As a co-ed student-run team, we work to promote an interest in sailing, in both recreation and competitive inter-collegiate racing. The team is open to any students who want to join, regardless of their experience. In the past fall season, we had over 50 active members on our roster. The majority of these students, many for whom sailing was a new activity, took the opportunity to participate in competitive racing in New England last season. In the spring, the UNH Sailing Team also coaches a combined regional Junior and Senior High School sailing team at our sailing center for their spring racing season which includes hosting the NH State High School Championship. Their season at the moment remains in limbo.

This fire has also affected the UNH Community Sailing Program, a summer sailing program open to local youths ages 6-18. The loss of their own resources including Opti's, Lasers, and those other boats they share with the collegiate team has jeopardized this organization and the summer activity of over 200 youth sailors.

The team is a club team and as such raises almost every penny for boats, equipment, regatta travel, coach's salaries and so forth. The sailors maintain all the boats, build the docks and essentially develop an ongoing deep sense of pride, commitment and leadership by being members of the UNH Sailing Team. We are extremely saddened by our loss but are grateful for the many emails, phone calls and offers of support.

This team will not be shut down. We will rebuild the centre, acquire boats and become stronger through adversity. Hopefully, through the support of the greater community of sailing, that process will happen sooner than later. Despite the extent of our losses, current team members, alumni, coaches, and our University advisors are optimistic and are moving toward the rebuilding process. We have suffered a terrible blow but are confident that our team bond and love of sailing will help us bounce back from this tragedy. We are currently working on some short term goals (allowing us and the Junior/Senior combined high school team to practice), mid-term goals (getting boats for the summer program and starting to create a structure for our sailing center), and long term goals (acquiring new or refurbished boats and replacing the equipment that was lost). We will rebuild, and we will continue to sail our spring season.

If you would like to donate to the team, whether it is tools, boats, electronics, parts, or even cash donations, we would be very appreciative. Any type of donation is valued. Any contacts or connections to boat or construction businesses are very helpful. Several corporate sponsors have reached out to assist us in this transitional time. On our website, we have a donations page with more information.

Thank you for your time, and we are grateful for your support.


Chris Edwards Brittany Healy
Captain Commodore

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