Peter Rieck – A Sailing Hero

April 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

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Peter Rieck

He’s too humble to admit it, but Peter Rieck may be among the most important and influential sailors in the world in the last thirty years. Quiet, unassuming, accommodating, always present, and usually working, Peter has helped many generations learn to sail and learn to love sailing.

His impact is staggering. As the longtime Executive Director of Milwaukee’s Internationally-acclaimed Community Sailing Center, Peter has been the key figure in:

… raising tens of millions of dollars and enlisting tens of thousands of volunteer hours in order to acquire and maintain an unmatched fleet of shared sailboats, to build an award-winning campus, and to create the reference curriculum for sailing centers around the country …

… teaching thousands of kids and adults that wind, water, waves, and working together on a sailboat are priceless joys …

… nurturing hundreds of teens to become counselors, teachers and mentors to their younger peers, and, along the way, to become leaders themselves …

… deftly navigating a minefield of local politics, yachties-gone-altruistic, and scattershot volunteer committees, yet remaining firm and focused on a mission of teaching and sharing, safely, fairly and in good fun …

… showing an otherwise skeptical community that investments in outdoor education, open access to public parks and waterfront, and youth scholarships and part-time work always improve lives, especially when kids face stiff headwinds …

… inspiring a multi-generational team of volunteers to create a sailing community.

If you’ve ever been to MCSC, you know that it feels like a village. Friendly, helpful, accessible, fun. Just like Peter.

Peter announced his retirement a few weeks ago and will be leaving Milwaukee to invent a new life with his long-time partner Kathy, in Chicago.

If he has a fraction of the impact in Chicago that he has had in Milwaukee, the city will be transformed.

Sail trim class presentations

February 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sail Trim Class

It’s always fun, and a sign that spring will eventually arrive, to share sail-trim concepts with the hopeful and studious folks at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center. Here are the presentations from this year’s classes. Download and share as you wish.

Upwind Sail Trim; Mains, Jibs and Rigs

Downwind Sail Trim: Spinnakers, Speed and Polar Diagrams

And here’s the cool Wind Tunnel App that makes classroom conversation a tad more tolerable.

Let’s do this on the water when the ice breaks.

-N

Racing with Copepods: A case for creative mentoring

January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Barbara McVeigh was, for a time, the Communications/Outreach Director at one of the most innovative community sailing centers I’m aware of, a place call Sailing Education Adventures, in Marin, California.

We’ve been emailing back and forth for years about how SEA links sailing and experiential learning. I’ve been impressed by the organization’s fearless nature- and science-based curriculum, a distant outlier among community and sailing programs that typically focus on skills or racing.

And I was concerned to learn in early 2014 that Barbara was moving onto a new career: independent documentary filmmaking, and that her contributions at SEA were coming to an end.

Instead, Barb upped the ante. She’s challenging everyone who teaches and advocates for sailing to think much bigger.

Her short film “Racing with Copepods,” directed by Carlos Grana, and featuring Kimball Livingston as narrator, begins like any intro to a sailing program with dock talk and PFDs. But soon, the shackles binding conventional thinking come off, and we’re watching kids blast across San Francisco Bay aboard planing dinghies on a destination adventure to collect beach samples and dig in mud. Then they’re casting nets off the transom of an ocean-going research sailboat to collect and study microscopic organisms with scientists as crew-mates. Eventually, the kids explain the links between the Copepods – tiny speedy jumping swimmers – and themselves. They share the water. And the water, therefore, deserves our care.

It’s not a new story that sailing is a great platform for teaching and learning things like leadership, character and inquisitiveness. What’s new is that the connections made to and from sailing by creative mentors like Barbara are limitless. Almost anything you want to learn, you can learn through sailing. And almost anything you want to teach, you can teach through sailing. The key is to make the environment for mentoring. Then, sailing doesn’t need saving. It does the saving.

You can like Racing with Copepods on Facebook and find a viewing at http://www.racingwithcopepods.com.

Racing with Copepods screenshot

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