Archive February 2024

The Community Sailing Center Receives US Sailing Robie Pierce Award for Adaptive Sailing Program


Burlington, VT — On February 2, 2024, the Community Sailing Center (CSC) accepted the US Sailing Robie Pierce Award given annually by US Sailing to recognize programs that have made notable contributions to promote sailing for people with disabilities. Program Director John Nagle accepted the award on behalf of the organization at the US Sailing National Symposium in Savannah, Georgia. John stated, 

“Adaptive Sailing is at the center of what we do at the CSC, in our mission of providing access to Lake Champlain to everyone, regardless of any obstacle. It is so meaningful to be able to provide the opportunity to sail to people who might not have dreamed of being able to do so. It takes a massive group effort to provide Adaptive Sailing; from fundraising to instructors, volunteers, administrators, adapted boats, and caregivers. I would like to thank everyone for all they’ve done to make our 2023 season so successful.

CSC’s Adaptive Watersports Program has been a core part of the Center’s activities since 1997. With the help of Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, the Community Sailing Center created the Adaptive Water Sports Program to support individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities to get out on the water. By using adaptive teaching methods and specialized equipment the program sought to include every body type in the sport of sailing. In August of 2013, the program expanded further with the inception of the Derek Schueler fund, a fund created in honor of the late Derek Schueler who believed everyone should have the opportunity to get out and sail.The fund allowed CSC to acquire two Martin-16 sailboats, specially adapted for individuals with disabilities. With the new fleet additions, many adaptive participants have gone on to sail in regattas locally as well as internationally. 

Over the years, CSC’s Adaptive Watersports Program has served thousands of individuals with disabilities and continues to break down barriers within the sport of sailing. In 2023, financial support from the Waterwheel Foundation allowed CSC to offer free adaptive sailing for all participants with disabilities which saw an increase in participants on Lake Champlain. CSC had 279 adaptive participants in 2023 compared to 191 in the previous year. The number of hours spent on Lake Champlain in adaptive keelboats grew from 42 hours in 2022 to 137 hours – a 226% increase in just one year alone. From recreational sailing to independent racing competitions, CSC’s Adaptive Watersports program continues to grow and hopes to enable all participants to realize that unlimited potential is right at their fingertips. 

Support for this program was generously provided by the Waterwheel Foundation as well as the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation. CSC sends a huge thank you to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, supporters of the Derek Schueler Fund, Waterwheel Foundation, and the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation.