As the Chair of US Sailing’s Community Sailing Committee, Kate Neubauer of Newport, RI is making our sport more accessible to more people, and as Program Manager at 11th Hour Racing she’s striving to keep the waters on which we sail clean for future generations.
“I grew up in Barrington, but didn’t start sailing until after I graduated from college,” Kate recalls. “I’ve always loved the water, and had an opportunity to go sailing on Lake Champlain when I moved to Burlington, Vermont. It’s an amazing place to sail, surrounded by mountains and beautiful scenery, and I completely fell in love with the sport. My passions for building community and environmental education came together through sailing, and I was the Executive Director of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center for over ten years. We built a summer camp program into a year-round program with sailing and educational programs for all ages, with a fleet of 420s, Rhodes 19s and Sonars. Our mission was to create a connection between the community and the lake. If you teach people how to play on a body of water and provide access to it, they’ll develop a relationship with the natural resources around them. I also sailed in weekly races at Lake Champlain Yacht Club on a Swede 55, and sailed on a Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 30 on a regular basis. I love old wooden boats…and I’m excited about racing J/22s this summer!”
“I joined 11th Hour Racing in January 2013,” says Kate. “11th Hour Racing is a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, and we’re working to mobilize the sailing community and marine industry to create systemic change for the improved health of our waters. Sailors have a unique relationship with the water, so we’re very important stakeholders for ocean health. 11th Hour Racing works in different ways to increase awareness and find innovative solutions to threats, and we support educational activities in youth programs and at community sailing centers.”
11th Hour Racing is the presenting sponsor of The Atlantic Cup, a Class40 race that starts this month in Charleston, SC, makes a stop in New York, NY and finishes in Newport. “The Atlantic Cup is the first carbon neutral sailboat race in the country, and we’re helping the race build upon its sustainability initiative,” Kate explains. “My job is focused on the Living On the Edge 2.0 event, which will happen on Thursday night, May 15 during the New York City stopover. This year’s theme is ‘Innovative Solutions,’ and we’re bringing together a spectrum of well-respected speakers from all over the country to present ideas and explore the sailing industry’s commitment to the environment. The event will be held aboard the Hornblower Hybrid, a ship powered by hydrogen fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines, and Cameron Clark, the General Manager of Hornblower Cruises & Events, will be speaking. Other presenters include Richard Jenkins, the inventor of Saildrone, which is an autonomous ocean science vessel, and Ryan Williams from method, who will speak about their biodegradable products.”
“The organizers of The Atlantic Cup, Manuka Sports Event Management, are using this event to promote sustainability in multiple ways,” says Kate. “Each team must use an alternative fuel source, and the race showcases environmental technology and innovation with the Living On the Edge 2.0 event. The organizers are also expanding educational opportunities for youth, both online and at Kids Days in each stopover city, and connecting with non- profits and school systems that might not otherwise have an opportunity to connect with an event like this. When I sailed with kids on Lake Champlain, they would often look back at the Burlington cityscape and ask, ‘Where are we?’ I’d say, ‘That’s your town!’ and their jaws would drop. I think the same thing happens at The Atlantic Cup Kids Days. The kids go aboard these amazing boats and the sailors spend a lot of time talking with them. When you show kids an opportunity that they never knew existed, their perspective suddenly changes.”
“Last year was the first year of 11th Hour Racing’s Sailing Education and Stewardship Grant Program, which supports a variety of youth sailing organizations to increase stewardship of the waters they sail on. We also do a lot of racing team sponsorships. Last year we sponsored Hannah Jenner and Rob Windsor as Team 11th Hour Racing in the Transat Jacques Vabres, and this is our second year sponsoring the Moth Class, whose sailors are actively incorporating sustainability in all aspects of their operations. We have a long relationship with Sail Newport, and we’ll be actively involved with the Volvo Ocean Race stopover next year. Our goal is to inspire people to think big.”
“The Community Sailing Committee is the voice of community sailing in conversations at US Sailing, and my role as Chair is to guide the committee in the projects that we’re working on to connect public access sailing facilities with the resources that US Sailing is providing. We’re currently creating a mentoring program to support professional development of sailing educators, we’re strengthening the communication network among the community sailing centers across the country, and we’re expanding the Community Sailing Sanctioning Program, in which US Sailing is sanctioning centers that promote best practices.”
“The Sailing Leadership Forum in California in February brought a wide cross-section of our industry into a conversation at one location for the first time. One-design sailors were talking to the community sailing centers, professional sailors were talking to the media, and a lot of seeds were planted that will yield really great outcomes. It was fantastic! Bringing in new people is something the sport of sailing desperately needs, and community sailing centers are introducing the sport to a wide variety of people that might not otherwise have the opportunity. A lot of smaller organizations are growing as they connect more people with the water, and I think that’s amazing!”