Sailing Away

Your support for the People for Parks Fund is helping a new generation set sail

The imagery and iconography of Minneapolis has long been connected to the sport of sailing. But with BIPOC people making up fewer than one percent of sailing participants worldwide, the signature symbol of outdoor leisure in the City of Lakes leaves many residents out of the picture.

The Minneapolis Sailing Center believes it’s time for a sea change. With the help of back-to-back People for Parks Fund grants in 2022 and 2023, the nonprofit has been inviting a whole new generation of sailors to take the rudder through a series of free workshops and sailing scholarships offered through partner nonprofits. 

“Our mission is pretty simple, and that’s to welcome people from all over the city, and make sure that the make-up of our board, our staff, and our community of sailors reflects the city as a whole,” says MSC executive director Ted Salzman. “It’s a conversation the sailing community has been having for a while, and it’s become our passion project.’’

To get the word out, the Minneapolis Sailing Center has been building partnerships with more than two dozen community groups including Outdoor Afro MN, Outdoor Latino MN, Boys of Hope, Girls Taking Action, and Urban Ventures that have brought youth groups and families to take advantage of free sailing field trips and scholarships. While bringing more youth from BIPOC communities into the sport of sailing is a top priority, so is balancing out the gender gap within sailing, where men still outnumber women in competitive regattas by 5 to 1 according to a recent analysis in Sailing World

Photos courtesy of Minneapolis Sailing Center.

Support from the People for Parks Fund has also allowed the Minneapolis Sailing Center to extend volunteer support to the Twin Cities Blind Sailing Club, offering a cruising group at its headquarters at Bde Maka Ska that pairs visually impaired sailors with sighted guides. 

“Last year was our biggest year ever, and this summer, we’re already poised to beat it,’’ says Salzman, noting that People for Parks Fund support over the last two years has helped the Minneapolis Sailing Center to connect with nearly 2,500 novice sailors, of all ages and backgrounds. While MSC’s mission will take time to accomplish, Salzburg says he and the MSC’s community of volunteers are seeing early signs of success, meeting families who’ve returned to take part in MSC’s Free Sailing Sundays, and kids who’ve brought their families back after sailing experiences to see what’s happening at Bde Maka Ska. Salzman says, “When we see repeat customers, we know it must be working,” Salzman says. 

Ready to set sail? The Minneapolis Sailing Center will host its final Free Sailing Sunday of the season on Sunday, September 17 from noon to five at 3010 East Bde Maka Ska Parkway. Made possible in part by your contributions to the People for Parks Fund, these free monthly events have already connected more than 630 newbies to the sport of sailing this summer. Visit for more information.

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