Try as we might, we can’t go sailing without a footprint. By Richard Jepsen
Richard has held the reigns of OCSC Sailing for 29 years and has helped build it into one of the most respected sailing schools in the United States. Not to mention one of Outside Magazine’s top 100 best places to work.
Sailing has many faces, from racing to day sailing, cruising to international chartering, owning a boat to renting. All those aspects of sailing make a footprint on our planet and, try as we might, we can’t go sailing without some sort of footprint. At OCSC, when we go sailing, we ‘do what we can’. Reduce engine use (we’re lucky to have lots of breeze on SF Bay), keep sailors hydrated with personal, reusable water bottles and convenient drinking water access to re-fill those bottles when necessary, recycle cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and scrap metal.
We support those programs that are doing things for the planet that we can’t do ourselves. We operate locally, by making repeated ‘in kind’ donations to programs like Save The Bay, here on San Francisco Bay, that was started by three women in the early 60’s. They started by combating the attempts of the Army Corps of Engineers to landfill half the area of San Francisco Bay, which would have turned it into something close to a river rather than a bay. They are now working to battle a huge agro conglomerate that wants to land fill in vast salt ponds in the South Bay to add more upscale residential developments to Silicon Valley. They also focus on water quality and storm runoff, working with cities and counties of the Bay Area as well as conduct elementary environmental education initiatives to get to kids early and make them ecologically aware.
We operate internationally, as well. Every year we set out on two or three flotilla charters, taking us to exotic places in the world with members and staff, to enjoy and appreciate some of the most beautiful sailing grounds in the world; Tahiti, Tonga, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, Phuket, Thailand, Croatia, Turkey and Greece, as well as the Sea of Cortez and British Columbia. We know we will leave a footprint in those areas as we enjoy and experience them. So, when we travel to these locations, we donate money collected for the flotilla to non-profits that protect endangered aquatic animals; coral in Tonga, dolphins in the South Pacific, turtles in Greece, manatees in Belize, eagles in British Columbia, as just a few examples. Our donations are smaller, but sustainable, ranging from as little as $2000 for small flotillas to $5000 for a large thirteen boat flotilla in Turkey recently. We have donated over $40,000 to environmental organizations around the world with this initiative. We have followed the model of doing a little bit consistently and have made that process financially sustainable as a result. Kinda like 11th Hour Racing’s ‘one degree at a time’!!