As US Sailing readies to launch the Siebel Sailors Program, a landmark community sailing program made possible by a three-year, seven-figure donation from the Tom and Stacey Siebel Foundation, NoPo sits down for an exclusive interview with US Sailing’s Youth Director, John Pearce, to find out more:

NoPo: How did the idea for this Program come about and what is its primary initiative?
JP: It came about organically. US Sailing’s CEO Jack Gierhart had been having long-term conversations with Tom Siebel about the sport of sailing and its lack of diversity and inclusion. Tom was looking to take this initiative on, and wanted Jack to think ‘outside the box’ so that we could do something that had never been done before: provide resources and support to youth sailors at public access sailing centers across the country.

We’re going to significantly enhance community sailor center programming, which has long served as an access point to sailing, and open new opportunities for young sailors looking to advance their skills—something that has traditionally only been offered by yacht clubs and private racing teams.

Our mission is to bridge that gap deliberately, change the paradigm for the sport of sailing, and grow the sport for the future.

NoPo: What is the game plan?
JP: US Sailing, through the Siebel Sailors Program, will be building the initial system. We are going into three leading community sailing centers later this year – San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC/Baltimore – and two more in 2020. We will be providing equipment and expert coaching in these areas, as well as six boats to each participating center.

We are looking to provide access to the Program to 100 sailors per year per Center.

NoPo: What are your expectations?
JP: We are hoping this model inspires people all around the country to follow similar models. Maybe this will grow virally, or maybe we will learn there’s another way to do it. This is a start-up for us, so we’ll see how things evolve and we will be measuring the process along the way.

We’re just thankful to have the funding to get it off the ground, and if all goes well then we’ll see more access and more diversity in all aspects of the sport.

To learn more about the Siebel Sailors Program, please click here.

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