November 11, 2012

Scene & Heard: All hands on deck

Supporters turn out for the SailMaine Soiree, which raises money to make it more affordable to teach kids to learn to sail.


"With almost 3,500 miles of coastline, shouldn't the people of Maine be sailors?"

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Christina Cumming, who helped Merriconeag High School in New Gloucester start a sailing team through SailMaine; her husband Jeff Cumming, executive director of SailMaine; and Peter Clough, who promotes fundraising for SailMaine at the recent fifth annual SailMaine Soiree.

Amy Paradysz photos

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Left: SailMaine adult instructor Tim Jones; Charlie Fox, owner of The Boathouse in Falmouth and head coach of the Falmouth High School sailing team; and Kristina Grimaldi of Falmouth.

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SEND PARTY INVITES at least two weeks in advance to Avery Yale Kamila, Maine Sunday Telegram, One City Center, Portland, ME 04101 or

Beyond being the marketing tagline for SailMaine, this idea is central to the organization's efforts to make sailing accessible to all ages and income levels.

To that end, 200 people attended the fifth annual SailMaine Soiree last Saturday night, raising $12,000 for SailMaine programming.

SailMaine's adult sailing programs are financially self-sufficient and help to offset the costs of SailMaine's two other largest programs – youth learn-to-sail and high school sailing teams.

In the summer, SailMaine offers two-week, 30-hour learn-to-sail courses for youths ages 8 to 18. In 2012, nearly 300 individual kids went through this program, many of them in multiple sessions.

"If someone comes to us and says they can't pay the $300, we tell them to sign up anyway," said Jeff Cumming, executive director of SailMaine. "We are set up to make sure that money isn't a barrier to sailing for kids."

The Soiree included a silent auction, a raffle, and parts donations on everything from clevis pins to nylon plugs.

In a new "sponsor-a-sailor" portion of the auction, seven bidders committed donating $100 each to help make sailing affordable for local high school students.

In the spring and fall, SailMaine hosts six high school sailing teams – Portland, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Cheverus, and the southern Maine high school team for students from other area schools.

These teams practice collaboratively three afternoons a week for three hours. About 160 high school students sail in the spring and fall. Students who cannot afford the fee of $500 per season can apply for financial aid.

"SailMaine makes sailing more accessible for the community, no matter what your age or means are," said Sarah Helming Sterm, the former director of programs and events at SailMaine. "It's so fortunate that Portland has so much happening on the waterfront – so much sailing, so much racing."

In fact, this weekend the Yarmouth and Falmouth teams are at the Atlantic Coast Challenge, and the Cheverus team is in New Orleans for the Great Oaks Regatta. These invitations were based on previous East Coast standings, which Cummings called "an impressive accomplishment."

Charlotte Boymer, who coaches the Yarmouth High School sailing team and was the assistant director of SailMaine's junior sailing program for ages 8 to 18 this summer, enjoys teaching on a working waterfront, with all the variables entailed, from ferry traffic to tanks to lobster boats. "Casco Bay is a really great place to learn to sail," she said. "You can sail just about anywhere after you learn here."

"Portland really is a maritime city," said Chris Mooradian, a Coast Guard officer who considers himself a beginner after six years of sailing. "Where did America's maritime tradition begin? It began with sailing. Passing on that tradition is a great endeavor."

His wife, Alicia Mooradian, is one of the event organizers, and their daughter Emily Mooradian sails on the Falmouth High School team.

"Teaching kids how to sail is part of Maine," said Mali Welch, who used to teach sailing on Vinalhaven. She now works at Maine Magazine, the SailMaine Soiree's premier sponsor.

Skip Yale, who works for Yale Cordage, grew up sailing on Casco Bay. "Youth sailing is something I've always had a passion for," he said. "And it's a lifelong sport."

Both his daughters started sailing at age 7.

Some start even younger, like Elizabeth Newberry of Standish, who first experienced sailing sitting between her father's knees as a toddler. "She would not say a word the whole time, but she always wanted to be on a boat," said Bill Newberry, who is on the advisory board for SailMaine.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Sophie Salomon, captain of the Portland High School sailing team; Ben Davis from True Course Yachting; and Michael McAllister of Portland.

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SailMaine volunteers Evan Sipert of Cape Elizabeth and Mitt Calder of South Portland; sailor Michael Candore of Washington, D.C.; and Charlotte Boymer, who was assistant director of the junior sailing program last summer. She also coaches the Falmouth High School sailing team.

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SailMaine Soiree organizing committee member Carlisle McLean with Portland residents Michelle Cianchette and Erin Ovalle.

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Portland residents Derek Lombard and Mali Welch, who works at Maine Magazine, the premier sponsor of the SailMaine Soiree.

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Eight-year-old Matthew Gilbert (foreground), who won the John Ford Regatta for new sailors in August, with his grandmother Jan Robinson of Boston and mother Lisa Gilbert of Cumberland. Matthew followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Joseph Gilbert, who was the winner in 2011.

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Nathaniel Baldwin and Erin Kiley, owners of the Portland Flea-for-All, donated a watch for the silent auction.

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Lifelong sailors Sarah and Russ Cox of Portland, and Cordelia Pintman, whose husband, Winslow Ferber, is director of development for SailMaine.


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