The Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) aims to promote safety and knowledge for a lifetime of boating enjoyment for all. With a slogan of “Boating for Everyone,” the nonprofit focuses on education, innovative solutions and accessibility for those with physical, cognitive or financial needs. Here, Jerry Slavens, executive director of SEAS, discusses the joy of giving everyone the chance to experience time on the water, the rise in sailing interest during COVID and SEAS’ upcoming events.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? The SEAS organization was started to combine all of the boating organizations under one roof to share resources and knowledge, including Sheboygan Youth Sailing, Sea Scout Ship 50 and Sail Sheboygan.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the nonprofit? Greatest reward is giving everyone a chance to enjoy one of the greatest natural resources we have in our backyard. Whether it’s sailing or powerboating, canoeing or kayaks, and seeing the smiling faces after they experience the water.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Has the pandemic affected the needs of SEAS? Biggest challenge is always finding funding and getting the word out that we are more than just a sailing club. Education with the adaptive program, Lions Club blind sailing regattas and offering classes at the high schools and middle schools for people who may not have access to any type of boating or anything to do with water sports. Our Making Mentors program for underprivileged students has gotten back on track after COVID, and we are hoping to expand that to other students next year. COVID saw a rise in participation with outdoor actives, which in turn helped this past season reach the highest level of activity that SEAS has ever seen.
What are your goals for the remainder of the year? Our goals for the remainder of the year include a five-person boat kit which we have classes currently involved with building a Team Dory rowing vessel which will compete with other teams of rowers on the Great Lakes. We also have navigation classes, knot-tying classes, weather classes and the physics of sailing classes that we are currently trying to schedule throughout the winter.
How can readers help? Readers can help by scheduling a first sail if they are interested in experiencing the lake by a sailboat or powerboat. They can become a seasonal member, volunteer time during our regatta’s and fundraising events or make a tax-deductible donation to our 501c3.
Does SEAS have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? Events coming include our Lakefront Open House, which is the first weekend in June, and Brats for Sail, which is mid-September. Also, the National Junior Lighting sailboat regattas which will include 60 sailors from all over the country starting on July 6. This will include all sailing organizations from Youth Sailing, Seas Scouts and Sail Sheboygan.