Skip to content

Commodore’s Message

Welcome to the 2024 SBSSA season!

The Santa Barbara Sea Shell Association is now 76 years old. It was founded in 1948, and since 1955, has been a non-profit, volunteer-family run organization dedicated to fostering healthy child development and close family units by teaching, developing, and encouraging youth sailing skills.

On Sunday afternoons we gather on a stretch of sand we casually refer to as “Sea Shells Beach.” But it used to have another name: “Chapala” (hence the street). Local historian Neal Graffy describes “Chapala” as an informal word meaning “to splash” or “to wade.” Before planes, trains, and automobiles, “Sea Shells Beach” was the gateway to Santa Barbara. In those days, local youth would paddle out to meet ships and offer to tender passengers ashore. As the small row boats approached the beach, the youth would ask for tips. Depending how well they were paid, they would either land neatly on the beach or “accidentally” turn broadside and capsize in the surf. Thankfully, kids today have a more positive outlet for maritime hijinks in Santa Barbara!

Of course, that positive outlet is not the result of an accident or random chance. Sea Shells is able to operate successfully thanks to the dedication and commitment of our member families. It is so gratifying to see all the members on the beach working together to help each other’s children learn to sail and to enjoy their time skippering their own boats. Our time spent together is not only time in our beautiful climate (and away from screens); it is time spent growing in sportsmanship and confidence, and learning a real, practical skill.

This year we are running five fleets in four classes of boats. The US Sabot remains our Novice Fleet staple. New solo skippers will continue sailing their Sabots when they promote to C Fleet. Those admitted to B Fleet will sail the fast and fun O’Pen Skiff. The A Fleeters will be sailing the RS Tera this year. And our Feva Program has grown, giving older skippers a way to continue to advance their skills with the addition of a jib, mainsail, and spinnaker. Our veteran skippers continue to serve as mentors/buddies on the water alongside the younger Sabot skippers.

I am honored to be Commodore this year. I look forward to seeing you all wading and splashing at “Sea Shells Beach.”

Andrew Bermond
2024 Commodore