Thursday, July 21, 2011

Planting the Seeds In Providence

If the city of Providence itself has come a long way in the past 20 years, so has community sailing.

On no other day is this more evident than during the aptly-named "Renaissance Regatta," Providence Community Boating Center's signature summer event. Each July, dozens of enthusiastic parents, spectators, sponsors, patrons and community leaders converge at CBC's beautiful facility at India Point Park. During the course of the day, these guests get to see firsthand what CBC is all about, and, if they so choose, help ensure that its valuable programs continue to function.

In addition to showcasing the hard-earned sailing skills of CBC's students, the Renaissance Regatta's other role is as the center's principal fundraising event for the year. To ensure its success, CBC really pulls out all the stops. A silent auction in the main clubhouse, well-stocked by local business and artists, is the center of activity. Outside, a large tent abuts a bustling BBQ pit, where the grilling begins an amazing seven hours before the regatta commences. By the time dusk hits, guests have more incredible food on hand than they know what to do with. Seconds are absolutely necessary.

The level of sponsorship is also impressive, with big local names such as Deloitte & Touche LLP, NEXTera Energy Resources, and Citizens Bank numbering among the many supporters of the event. The presence of such companies and firms at the Renaissance Regatta is really a sign of how the city has embraced the center, and its ongoing success, over the past two decades.

Also worthy of celebration is CBC's successful implementation of the groundbreaking STEM curriculum into its sailing program. Standing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the study of STEM concepts within the context of sailing allows the local PASA (Providence After-School Alliance) students who participate in the program to use sailing as a powerful academic tool.

These guys in Providence just seem to get it. When sailing is made truly accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status, there is simply no containing it. In the past week alone, a congressman and a major news outlet both visited CBC to see what all the commotion was about. By all accounts, both came away impressed.

In short, whatever they're brewing at CBC needs to be bottled and exported as soon as possible, and US SAILING stands ready to help that happen.


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