BIG Team Regatta to benefit underserved youth and adaptive sailors

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - On October 7, national and local organizations – including Bank of America, E*Trade Financial, First Republic Bank, Hanson Bridgett, Lexar Media and Warmington Homes – will compete on the waters of the San Francisco Bay in the BIG Team Regatta San Francisco 2005, according to a Thursday press release from Group Experiential Learning, one of the regatta’s organizers.

The Olympic Circle Sailing Club of Berkeley is also organizing the event. Proceeds from the challenge will benefit the Treasure Island Sailing Center’s youth and adaptive sailing programs.

“E*Trade Financial strongly identifies with the BIG Team Regatta’s mission,” said Connie Dotson, E*Trade’s chief communications officer. “The regatta’s objectives in many ways match company philosophy on challenging the old ways of doing business. In addition to funding more traditional forms of youth and education programs, we wanted to take advantage of learning opportunities offered by the San Francisco Bay and help kids experience something that they wouldn’t otherwise.”

Located on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, TISC provides free sailing lessons, coaching and racing opportunities to underserved urban youth and to disabled sailors through adaptive sailing programs. Carisa Harris Adamson, TISC president and two-time NCAA All-American sailor and national champion, dedicates her energies to the educational and healing properties of sailing.

“Our mission at the Treasure Island Sailing Center is to make sailing accessible to anyone who wants to get out on the Bay,” Harris said. “From day one they learn that they need to be self-reliant, and they gain a sense of confidence and independence because they do learn how to take this little boat out on the Bay by themselves and get the boat back. I think that our project will be successful when we walk into any given neighborhood and hear children talk about their sailing experiences.”

Anthony Sandberg, president of OCSC wanted to be an organizing sponsor and provide boats for the regatta because, “our culture is increasingly teaching kids to be consumers, not participants,” Sandberg said. “With the Youth Sailing Programs at TISC, kids get directly involved in the sport and gain a sense of independence, self-reliance and confidence to take on other challenges.”

Businesses can still sponsor or participate in the regatta. Participating companies enter a four-person team and donate $4,000, all of which directly benefits the TISC youth and adaptive sailing programs. Competing companies will sail a J-24 racing boat with the company logo. Each team will be paired with an experienced captain who will take them through basic lessons of sailing, seamanship and racing, and then race with the team.
Corporate participants benefit the same way as youth and disabled sailors do, through team and confidence building, breaking through old boundaries and exposure to activities and situations not normally encountered.

Jay Palace, CEO of GEL and BIG Team Regatta founder and director, knows that sailing is a good platform for developing communication and leadership skills in children and adults.

“Much like the corporate world, information has to flow on a sailboat from one team member to another, yet people have different ways of communicating and decision-making,” Palace said. “The sailboat provides a safe environment to experience these differences and receive immediate feedback on team performance. For GEL and OCSC, the BIG Team Regatta allows us to support youth sailing, thank our existing teambuilding clients, and expose new companies to the power of experiential learning.”

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