Back when I first moved to Santa Barbara, I noticed a gaggle of little white sails fluttering every Sunday at the harbor. One day, following my curiosity, I went to take a closer look. I was immediately impressed by what I saw: a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn to sail and for families to spend a fun and enriching day together by the ocean, building lifetime friendships with other families who share the same passion for sailing and for outdoor activities.
I would sound insincere if I told you that the effort required to be a SBSSA family is small; parents’ active participation is critical to the success of the program and it is the very foundation of the association. SBSSA has been around for 68 years because of the passion, the commitment, and the enthusiasm of all the families. Year after year, SBSSA families have invested their time and energy to create a family run organization, whose goal is to foster the healthy development of the whole kid, both physically and socially, by teaching them to sail. I love to see the proud and happy smile on our young sailors’ faces when they come back to the beach after a regatta and the friendly atmosphere of parents helping each other by the ramp. Parents run the association by teaching the kids to sail, managing the races, operating the safety boats, repairing and maintaining boats and equipment, collaborating with the local community, and supporting the association in general.
Most skippers join with little to no sailing experience and grow to become fine recreational and competitive sailors. Skippers progress through the years from being Novice skippers, who sail their Catalina Sabot with one of their parents, to become skilled skippers who confidently steer the association 2-people RS-FEVAs. The 2016 season goes from April 10th through October 2nd with a few weeks break during the summer. We sail every Sunday and the few Saturdays that fall on a long weekend. A typical sailing day starts around noon with rigging the boats at the launch ramp of the Santa Barbara harbor and ends around 4:30-5:00 PM with the de-rigging and boats washing ritual. In between we sail three races for the skippers and one race for the adults. The majority of Sabots sailing take place within the protected waters of the Santa Barbara harbor just in front of West Beach. RS-FEVAs, which are skippered by senior sailors, adventure outside the harbor under the constant supervision of one of the two safety boats that SBSSA owns. Traditionally the association has organized a couple of out-of-town events, one of which is a sailing week end at Mission Bay (near San Diego) while the other is a camping and sailing weekend at Lopez Lake. Due to the drought we are currently experiencing, unless El Niño surprises us, this year we may camp and sail at Morro Bay instead.
All throughout the season, we hold many fun events bringing families together such as the skippers’ party, Memorial Day picnic, the Giorgi Park potluck, and award dinner at the SBYC.
For many years SBSSA has been hosting a wine tasting, silent auction and yachts tour at the harbor on Marina 1 during the first Saturday of October. It has become a very popular and successful event which is now part of the Santa Barbara tradition. It is also financially critical for the association because it is the only fundraising event and year after year it has enabled SBSSA to operate and to keep fees extremely reasonable.
On behalf of the 2016 board I would like to welcome our SBSSA community. We are looking forward to an exciting sailing season.
Should you have any questions, please to do not hesitate to email or call me.
Santa Barbara SeaShell Association
PO Box 3075
Santa Barbara, CA 93130