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.

The Ideal Sailboat for Teaching and Sharing

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

The ideal teaching and shared sailboat

The trend towards shared sailing fleets for training and daysailing is unmistakable. Community sailing centers and clubs around the country are collecting a variety of boats on which members often take their first sail along with an experienced sailor, take their first official lessons with an instructor, and then take their independent sail once qualified.

A common theme emerges when you speak with the operators: the ideal shared-fleet teaching designs don’t exist yet. If such designs were available, clubs with broader memberships and community support would raise the money to buy all new fleets. After years of discussions with these wishful folks, I’ve assembled a list of criteria to describe their dream design. This, in Spinsheet’s Oct 2015 issue, is what I’ve heard:

Bermudan (and New Zealand) kids learn to sail at school

April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Spirit of Bermuda
I’m glad to have clarifying feedback and a deeper understanding of WaterWise, a program in New Zealand and Bermuda that integrates sailing and school subjects.

From Gus Miller at BSWW:

Good day Mr. Hayes,

In your February 1, 2015 Sailing Magazine piece “Kids should sail because it’s fun, not because it’s homework” you make statements carrying some grains of truth but you need to be a lot clearer about the intent of your essay. While you mention some valid points about STEAM, branding and fads, the corrupting effect of corporate goals and values, governmental heavy handed lack of insight and the abuse of funding, your statement that “in New Zealand… sailing is not a school subject, nor vise versa” needs correction.

Since 1980 New Zealand Schools WaterWise (NZSWW) and since 2000 Bermuda Schools WaterWise (BSWW) have taught tens of thousands of 10 to 12 year olds about water safety, seamanship and sailing as part of their school curriculum. NZSWW and BSWW are school based programs led by teachers, are not junior or after school sailing programs, have no need for outside sailing instructors and are conducted during school hours as part of the curriculum. They do use collaborating local club facilities in some cases while in others the schools themselves have waterfront facilities.

The biggest fans and drivers of WaterWise in Bermuda are the teachers because of the powerful effect it has on their students. It brings the joy and excitement of sailing into the classroom and the kids respond by becoming better students academically, better in deportment and in self esteem. Integrating school subjects with sailing lessons is a program that would “revolutionize the teaching of sailing and attract gobs more kids to it”, if it is done the right way

If middle schools in the Milwaukee school system had proper WaterWise program for all students, the number of children wanting to continue sailing would overwhelm Milwaukee’s capacity to provide the opportunity. While a few see the potential, that is just not happening in the USA because no one has a clear vision or understanding of how to do it, politics and egos get in the way and there is a general fear of change or something new and different.

Best wishes, Gus Miller / BSWW


Mr. Miller: I am pleased to know more about your terrific program. You might enjoy this article on page 44 of the May 2104 issue of Spinsheet, about the work of the Spirit of Bermuda, which I believe has a connection to your program.

As to the intent of my article on STEM: let me be clearer. I have no issue with program innovation and creatively integrated teaching curricula. We can use much more of both in the US.

  • But, by adding many more fund-hungry institutions to an already too-small and too-empty education funding trough, we face a possibility that good schools and teachers might be hobbled when well-intended STEM sailing programs take money from schools and remove professional educators from the equation. And therefore…
  • …that both schools and sailing programs should be generously funded for the benefit of both. I hope that US Sailing will make this its primary institutional objective, since all other alternatives pale.

-N

What a Sailing School Can Be

March 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

Family SailingMy latest in Spinsheet challenges schools to include the whole family, and families to include sailing as the thing done together.


Taji Jacobs was always on the look-out for fun outdoor activities that might be done as a family.

She thought sailing might be fun for everyone, though she was a bit apprehensive herself. Would she feel scared? What if she didn’t understand the lingo and made a mistake that caused trouble? Would the kids think it was boring? Would Paul be interested?

Then she saw a Facebook post about a new kind of sailing program, discussed it with the family over dinner, and they decided to give it a try. Read more:

Sail trim is more than ‘sheet it’ and ‘cleat it’

May 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sailors make macro adjustments like changing sails or reefing when conditions warrant. However, these mega moves happen about as often as one might change from forward to reverse in a car, sometimes once or twice during a trip, rarely more. More often, sailors are “shifting gears” as if driving a manual transmission car, powering up or down to get into the right gear, and making constant fine adjustments to find the groove. How do they do it?

In this sailing ‘how-to’, I offer upwind sailtrim suggestions for the novice wanting to learn more, and for the experienced sailor looking for a refresher.  Read it in the May 2014 Learn to Sail issue of Sailing Magazine. If you want to follow along with slides, download the classroom material that the narrative is based on, here.

Upwind Sail Trim

 

SailingMag

 

 

Aussie sailing club shows how families can #gosailing

December 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

This is what  the Sandrigham Yacht Club – one of Australia’s largest –  is doing to promote sailing, family participation and membership. Perhaps you’ll find a nugget for your own organization. Thanks to Ross Kilborn, a great sailing friend from down-under, for sharing this video.

“What pushes middle school students…

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

…is the unexpected experience of someone taking them seriously.” – Paul Tough

This simple but clear idea is one of many nuggets in a terrific book that I recommend to anyone interested in mentoring or making a difference with young people. Teachers, sailing school and junior program directors would be well served to read How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough. Get it here:

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