Student sailing program really floats their boat

Chelsea students returned to the river — with the boats they built — on May 2.

Chelsea students returned to the river — with the boats they built — on May 2.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Hudson River Community Sailing kicked off its season with its Return to the River event at Pier 66 in the Chelsea section of Hudson River Park on Sat., May 2. It was a day of workshops, the launch of 9-foot-long wooden boats built by students in the year-round youth program and solo sails.

There was the boat blessing before the launch, in which students in the ninth-grade Sail Academy program participated in the millennia-old tradition of blessing the vessels before the craft were smashed with ceremonial bottles of water. There was food and music along with nautical activities, like knot tying, on the pier throughout the celebration.

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Each year, Hudson River Community Sailing’s Youth Development Program partners with eight Chelsea public high schools to offer academic credit to 120 underserved students by teaching math, science and character as the students build their own boats during the winter and then sail them in season. It’s a free, four-year program.

“What we look forward to most at this event is seeing our talented students launch and sail the boats they created by hand this winter,” said Robert Burke, HRCS executive director. “Through HRCS, these students are learning valuable lessons in teamwork, self-reliance, persistence and other qualities necessary for college and career success.”

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