By Lindsey Paige, Special to the Independent
The 120 members of the Women’s Sailing Association, which used to be exclusive to female sailboat racers, are trying their hand at a broader mission.
In September, the recently revived group will host their first Ocean Awareness Challenge, which will raise funds to allow underprivileged children to attend the Mountain and Sea Adventure Camp on Catalina Island.
Commodore Valerie Rhodes, of Laguna Niguel, said “We developed the Ocean Awareness Challenge for those who are interested in helping the ocean and the environment.” The WSA-OC is starting the event this year in the hopes to be a catalyst for ocean conservation and the overall wellbeing of the earth.
Captain Susie Campbell, of Laguna Beach, and Rhodes have revamped the organization’s focus to include an environmental component. She expects some participants will be kids who “grew up in Southern California and never have gotten the experience to put on a dive mask or even snorkel.” She hopes the event Sept. 9-11 will give some of those children the chance.
Rhodes said the agenda includes boat tours, hiking, aquarium touch tanks, music and dancing. Speakers will include Geoff Shester, program director of Oceana, a sea advocacy group; Wendy Marshall, education director of ExplorOcean, an education and literacy center in Newport Beach; and Dave Rudie, president of the California Fisheries and Seafood Institute. Participants will also see a screening of “Humpback Whales,” made by Laguna Beach filmmaker Greg MacGillivray.
Registration is available online. There will be a ship dedicated to visitor transportation. Tickets are $195 for the full three-day event.
To further the effort, the organization has started the use of the hashtag #myOACchallenge. Rhodes said her contribution to this effort is to stop using plastic water bottles.
The sailing group is also hosting its first meeting in Newport Harbor at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club on Tuesday, Aug. 2, in order to serve members in Newport and north county communities, Rhodes said. Meetings are typically held in Dana Point Harbor on the first Tuesday of each month, but will alternate in the future.
The upcoming meeting, “Endless Summer, Sailing Travel Adventures,” will feature Captain Holly Scott of Mahalo Sailing Adventures, based in Seal Beach.
Scott will share tips on a variety of cruising destinations and information about the various ways to plan a sailing vacation. She is a licensed U.S. Coast Guard captain and has led charters to destinations around the world. She is also owner and operator of Charlie’s Charts, which publishes cruising and navigational guides for sailors.
Membership in WSA-OC is open to both women and men of all skill levels with an interest in the sport. The meeting at 1601 Bayside Drive, Corona del Mar, will begin at 6:30 with a “happy 1/2 hour” and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend. There is no charge for prospective members or guests to attend.
Visit www.wusa.org/oac for more info.
Indy intern Lindsey Paige is a University of Florida journalism major.