Sailor of the Week: January 20-26
If you are planning on starting or expanding a community sailing program in your hometown, Greg Nissen has a blueprint for success you should consider. Greg is the director of the Quinipet Methodist Camp and Retreat Center, located in Shelter Island, N.Y. He started with Quinipet several years ago as a sailing director, when the waterfront area was under-utilized. Greg came in at the right time, but there was plenty of work to do and progress to be made.
Greg was responsible for supervising all 500 campers, the retreat program, and managing all the facilities and grounds. “There was an atmosphere of growth and I was in charge of the 25-acre property. There was so much potential on Eastern Long Island and Peconic Bay for community and camp sailing programs. All we had to do is keep talking and trying new things,” explained Greg.
Greg bolstered the environmental education program that reaches out to over 25 schools now. He significantly grew the community sailing programs for both adults and juniors. Greg fostered learn to sail programs for juniors where young sailors can choose from half-day, full-day, or sleep-away camps. Adults are offered a three-day/nine-hour Introductory to Sailing Course using donated Ensigns.
There is also a strong effort to grow women’s sailing. The Women’s Sailing Immersion Week has experienced a high retention rate and it attracts women sailors from around the country, including international participation.
In the last year, Greg partnered Quinipet with the Southampton Fresh Air Home to give campers with a range of disabilities the chance to learn how to sail. The Fresh Air Home had been given a specially adapted sailboat years ago, but did not have the staff capable of teaching the sport to its campers. Quinipet's sailing instructors traveled to the Fresh Air Home to conduct weekly lessons.
Greg grew up sailing with his father on an old O’Day and a MacGregor 25 on the Hudson River. “We did some long trips on that MacGregor. We sailed down the Hudson, around Long Island, and through the canals to Burlington, Vermont,” Greg said.
Greg is married to Amanda Clark, a Women’s 470 skipper on the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and a 2008 Olympian. “I am running the camp and retreat center, and Amanda and Sarah (Chin) are making their bid at 2012 (Olympics),” said Greg. “We see ourselves doing something, probably forever, in promoting the sport of sailing to those who don’t typically have easy access to it.”
Learn more about the Quinipet Camp and Retreat Center at http://www.quinipet.org/.