Mention the College of Charleston’s Sailing Program, and most listeners envision a top-notch collegiate sailing team with over 30 national championships to its name. But the College’s Sailing Program is engaged in much more than competitive sailing. For example, this week the program’s sailing center is hosting the Warrior Sailing Program‘s Advanced Racing Camp in which 17 military veterans and active duty personnel are learning and perfecting the nuances of competitive sailboat racing in the classroom and on the water.
The Warrior Sailing Program – a national nonprofit that teaches wounded veterans and active duty military who are wounded to sail and race – is only two years old, but already the organization is making an important impact. Ben Poucher ’05 is the director of the Warrior Sailing Program, and he knows firsthand how effective this program can be.
“This is the first time we’ve run an advanced racing camp, but the fact that it’s drawn 17 participants from all over the country is testimony to the impact it can have,” said Poucher. “We actually have double that number on our waiting list, so it’s definitely popular.”
Poucher says the majority of the veterans participating in Charleston have already completed one or more of the organization’s three-day basic camps, which are run in various locations around the country.
“Our objective is to have this advanced camp help them improve their skills to the point that they can return home and find a spot crewing on board a boat that races in their home waters,” said Poucher.
Anthony Radetic from Abbeville, Ala., is one of the veterans participating. Though he spends much of his time in a wheelchair, he’s managed to become very comfortable on board the 22-foot sailboats that the College has loaned to Warrior Sailing Program for this camp. He says he enjoys the rush that this sport provides when the wind pipes up and the boats get moving fast. Radetic adds that he also appreciates the caliber of coaching he’s getting at the camp.
“This event is definitely beneficial,” says Radetic, who became paralyzed in a motorcycle accident while training to become a fighter pilot. “I did a little sailing growing up, but I’m learning so much here. And I think we’re all learning from each other.”
Jacob Raymond ’14, who manages educational programming and outreach for the College of Charleston Sailing Program, agrees.
“Ben has put together a top-notch group of coaches for this camp, but I think many of them would tell you that they’ll be coming away having learned as much from the participants as the participants have learned from them,” says Raymond, who is a veteran of the Iraq War. “The Warrior Sailing Program is simply a phenomenal initiative and it’s not surprising to see how it’s grown since the College first became involved last year.”
The Warrior Sailing Program’s Advanced Racing Camp continues through Thursday, March 10, 2016, and members of the Warrior Sailing Team will be back in Charleston next month to participate in Sperry Charleston Race Week.
Watch below to see Charleston’s News 2’s visit to the Warrior Sailing program and the College: