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Sea Cliff Yacht Club joins SailAhead family!

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

The view from Sea Cliff. Six sailboats and three ribs participated to help heal wounded veterans.

SailAhead and the Sea Cliff Yacht Club:

In an extraordinary display of support and camaraderie, SailAhead recently partnered with the Sea Cliff Yacht Club to host an unforgettable event. The gathering, held at the picturesque Sea Cliff Yacht Club, marked a historic moment as SailAhead and the esteemed club collaborated for the first time, taking 25 veterans out on the open waters. This diverse group of heroes included Vietnam War combat veterans, as well as Purple Heart recipients from the conflict in Afghanistan. The event not only provided these veterans with an opportunity to experience the therapeutic power of sailing but also created an environment of support and healing.

The Yacht Club volunteered 7 sailboats, with skippers and crew to introduce the veterans to the world of sailing, and to continue the education for those who have participated in SailAhead events in the past. Unfortunately, one sailboat had to drop at the last minute due to engine problems. SailAhead brought three ribs to achieve the mission of photo taking, and boat jumping; a crucial part of our events. Boat jumping is when we pair a SailAhead crew-member with a veteran to go on each participating boat with our mates. This is a way to spread awareness about veteran suicide, and also to spread love and gratitude to each participant on every boat.

Setting Sail for Healing:

Retired US Army Ranger James Knuppenburg talking about the difficulties of transitioning, depicted with Our Mates.

Against the stunning backdrop of the Sea Cliff Yacht Club, the event commenced with great enthusiasm and anticipation. As the veterans arrived, they were greeted by volunteers from both SailAhead and the yacht club, all of whom were eager to provide an unforgettable experience. The event began with a few short speeches that highlighted the importance of community efforts in helping veterans after transitioning out of military life. Retired US Army Ranger James Knuppenburg was the guest of honor, and spoke about being wounded in Afghanistan, as well as the crucial role his community played in helping him arrive to where he is today.

SailAhead events are as much about establishing community as they are about sailing. Veterans and sailors from all walks of life come together to go sailing, and spend quality time together out on the Long Island Sound. Most veterans and sailors who participate in one SailAhead event are bound to participate in more in the future.

Many veterans report a sense of loneliness after leaving the military, and are at the highest risk of suicide within a year of transitioning out of the military. It is critical for us to establish community for veterans to replace the one they lost after leaving the military. Sailing, like the military, relies on teamwork, and a squad-like dynamic among those working together on the same boat.

Sailors and veterans posing for our "boat jumper" photographer, who goes from boat to boat to take pictures of everybody.

Healing Power of Sailing:

As the boats set sail, the transformative power of the sea became evident. The gentle rocking motion of the vessels, the soothing sound of waves crashing against the hulls, and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding coastline created a serene and therapeutic environment. For many veterans, this experience served as a form of respite from the daily challenges they face. Sailing provided them with a sense of freedom, peace, and control—a stark contrast to the chaos of war or the physical and emotional burdens they carry.

Sailing is inherently therapeutic, and can be classified as "adventure therapy" which is a particularly effective method of fighting against post-traumatic stress.

The SailAhead rib chases down our jumpers!

Thanks to the Sea Cliff Yacht Club!

The Sea Cliff Yacht Club volunteered skippers, sailors, and boats to take veterans out sailing.

Sea Cliff staff also participated in the event by preparing a BBQ as the veterans and sailors as they all returned ashore.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners, without whom this event would not have been possible! We are looking forward to working together again, and are honored to begin doing so!

SailAhead relies on the support of our community to maintain our operations. Please consider donating to us! We are in need of sailboats, and monetary contributions. Thank you!

If you are a Yacht Club member and interested in taking veterans sailing, please reach out to us and we can see what we can put together!


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