Last week in San Francisco was Hope For The Warriors® and BAADS (Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors) first wounded-veteran sailing clinic of 2013. Now in it’s second year, the program raises funds through speaking engagements at local San Francisco Bay Area yacht clubs for the purpose of bringing combat-wounded veterans to San Francisco to learn to sail. In addition to the sailing component of the clinic, the participating veterans and the all-veteran volunteer staff are participating in a number of non-sailing therapeutic activities.
In last week’s clinic, five veterans traveled to San Francisco from Florida, Texas, Washington state and Southern California. After a meet and greet and opening dinner, the veterans took to the water Wednesday morning for their first day of sailing. Sailing special Accessdinghies that are specifically designed for disabled individuals, the group learned to sail in the protected waters of McCovey Cove, lying adjacent to AT&T Park; home of the world champion San Francisco Giants.
Before sailing on Wednesday, the group started off their day right with a special breakfast compliments of Haddon Hill Cafe in Oakland. Once at the harbor, the group underwent an orientation before their first 3-hour morning sailing session. After lunch, the breeze picked up enough to keep the group off the water for the rest of the afternoon. A one-hour classroom session about sailing theory and practice was followed by an afternoon San Francisco Giants game. Half of the group attended the game while the other half went on a kayaking journey through McCovey Cove and the city front. After a full day on the water, the group of hungry veterans traveled to Berkeley for a home-cooked backyard barbecue and private bluegrass concert by Berkeley’s own Horrible String Band. The vets loved it.
After a full first-day of the clinic, the vets hit the water on Thursday morning for Day #2 of sailing. Breaking in the mid-afternoon, the group will travel to The Pad, one of San Francisco’s top yoga centers, for a meditative yoga session before traveling north to Muir Woods National Monument for a nature walk in the beautiful coastal Redwood Trees of Northern California.
On Friday, the clinic held it’s third and final day of sailing. The veterans continued to refine their sailing skills by participating in a series of practice races before crewing on real racing sailboats in a Friday night sailing race out of the South Beach Yacht Club.
This is just the first of four sailing clinics planned for 2013, with three clinics to take place in San Francisco and one clinic in Newport, Rhode Island. The clinics are a collaborative effort between Vietnam Marine Corps veteran Don Gray, retired Iraq Marine Corps veteran Ronnie Simpson and Army veteran Walt Kotecki and was recently featured in the April issue of SAIL magazine. Hope For The Warriors® would like to thank BAADS (Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors), the Commandery of St. Francis Order of St. John, Knights Hospitaller for their support in allowing us to conduct these clinics. Thank you to Hero Miles, a program from Fisher House Foundation, for supporting the travel for each of our veterans. In addition, we’d like to thank Steissy Nissan, Matt “Doc” King and all of the other volunteers that have helped make this clinic possible. For more information on the clinic, how to contribute or how to apply for future clinics, please contact Nicole Papadopoulos at NPapadopoulos@hopeforthewarriors.org