Thursday, July 14, 2011

City Sailing, Manhattan Sailing Club

Manhattan Sailing Club, a hybrid between a Yacht Club and Sailing Center as its name suggests is exactly that. Located in it’s own secluded lair of downtown Manhattan just blocks away from Ground Zero, the Manhattan Sailing Club is it’s own breed of sailing adapted to big city sailing.

Similar to DC Sail in its location of using docked boats and barges as offices and boathouses, Manhattan Sailing Club has expanded this concept of city sailing. Spread out among docks of NYC’s financial district, MYC is a floating clubhouse with bases along the Hudson. Cruising across the Hudson in a RIB almost feels surreal… a cross between Planet of the Apes when zooming under the Statue of Liberty and Water World as we jump among the several floating docks that make up the club.

And moored just off of Ellis Island includes the main home base, The Honorable William Wall Floating Bar. From the Honorable float, a two-story clubhouse with the wood interior of an expensive yacht club the Manhattan Sailing Club launches races with the Honorable as the starting line. Spectators look out at Ellis Island and the city skyline can’t help but think of the hundreds of years immigrants came through this very channel- and now we are listening to reggae while watching sailboat racing from a floating bar.

This is where sailing has adapted creatively into its city surrounds. Brilliant actually from the perspective of making sailing more spectator-friendly, the starting line never moves, just the wind. This made actually for exciting viewing yesterday, as we spectator all downwind starts. When the gun goes off and 30 boats hoist spinnakers in front of the NYC skyline, it’s a sight to remember.

Other ways that Manhattan Sailing Club has incorporated the city is in its membership. What started as investment bankers has grown into an eclectic group of NYC sailboat enthusiasts including families, artists, filmmakers, businessmen, and corporations. Manhattan Sailing Club encourages this growth by even hosting a Corporate Night where companies such as Merrill Lynch race their team boat with colleagues or cheer their company on from the Honorable William Wall.

However, beyond all this Manhattan Sailing Club has some interesting goals for community sailing. Running a teen and junior sailing camp off of floating docks by Liberty Park in the day, the Sailing Club is the only place for city kids to sail. Coaches appreciate the teen class who can jump on the metro, sail, and walk or metro home after class, which is also how the Roadshow reached the Sailing Club. A couple teen members have recently been initiated as full members, a 16 year old marking the youngest membership out of 800.

With the help of a savvy staff including previous college sailors such as Hans Jensen and Emily Whipple, the program is also interested in enhancing college sailing. With floating docks there are a couple nooks and crannies that would be perfect to set up a college racecourse. In density, the commodore claims that NYC has more college institutions than even Boston, so why not develop college sailing in such a dense area?
After visiting Manhattan Sailing Club, the fact that this club of floating docks exists under the hustle bustle of New York Harbor is surreal and awe-inspiring. It wins in creativity, but it’s successful enough to inspire even further creative vision. What would happen if eventually New York Harbor could utilize its harbor for more than ferries like San Francisco, Boston, or other city sailing? What is there for other city sailing communities to learn from Manhattan Sailing Club?

1 comment:

  1. i am going to start such a Sail NYC club. I am sure i have to to do a lot of work still to do this.