Annapolis Sailing School Celebrates 60th Anniversary

The pioneering Annapolis Sailing School celebrated its 60th year in business this 4th of July, with a special ceremony, parade of sail, and some conveniently-timed fireworks.

175 people connected to the sailing school came out to its Bembe Beach waterfront location, where the parade of sail showed off the range of instruction boats offered, and the new Annapolis Sailing School logo.

As part of the ceremony, the sailing school presented donations of $2,500 each to Brendan Sailing, a program for students with learning differences, and Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), a program for people with disabilities, veterans, and at-risk youth.

The event was timed to provide a perfect waterfront spot for watching 4th of July fireworks from the City of Annapolis. Many former and current sailing school attendees and instructors joined the celebration.

Annapolis Sailing School was the first recreational sailing school for adults when it was founded in 1959, offering sailboat rentals with proper instruction.

“When I purchased Annapolis Sailing School five years ago, I was well aware of its legacy and high-quality sailing experience,” said Rick Nelson, who bought the school with his wife Jenny, a former School instructor, in November 2014.

In the five years since the couple took the helm, the school has modernized its Rainbow 24 boats, added two Beneteau 37s, four RS Zests and two Hobie Cats, as well as offering paddleboard and kayak rentals for the first time. The sailing school’s property also got a makeover, adding a new clubouse known as the Sail Shed, new docks, and solar panels on the classrooms and offices.

The parade of sail displayed the sailing school’s wide array of boats. Left to right: 12’ Zest, 14’ American, 24’ Rainbow,  37’ Beneteau (10’ Laser not pictured).

“It’s been amazing to see Annapolis Sailing School grow so much over my decades of involvement with it, and I’m excited to be part of this next generation,” said John Cosby, who started working there as a junior instructor in 1977 and now serves as managing director.

-Meg Walburn Viviano