Blessings in a Backpack and Team HDsailing Unite

Team HD Sailing gives to the community with Blessings In A Backpack

David Hein works with a youth from Blessings In A Backpack

On Sunday, September 25th, 2016, Team HDsailing was able to work with Blessings in a Backpack and Machen Elementary School in Hampton, VA to teach a group of children how to sail.

David flew all the way from Phoenix, AZ after his training with Team EXOS and Arielle left Nationals right after derigging the boat from Sandy Hook, NJ just so they could put this together near Blessings in a Backpack Day. HDsailing was able to use the Sonars, 23ft keelboat, at Hampton Yacht Club (Arielle’s place of employment). Arielle also gathered up Sarah Wolcott, Kaila Pfrang and Sydney Spruill to help Team HDsailing with this special day. Sarah coaches for Norfolk Academy and is working on her Masters Degree in Education. Kaila and Sydney are on Arielle’s c420 Race Team at Hampton Yacht Club.

We had 10 wonderful children show up with slightly worried parents. The parents and the children have never been sailing before and most have never been on a boat, so they did not really know what to expect. David and I showed them the boats and reassured the parents that their children would be in perfect hands. After we talked to the Blessings in a backpackkids about our campaign and introduced the rest of the instructors. David and Arielle then quickly cut to the chase, got the kids in life jackets and then headed straight to the boats.

We taught the kids parts of the boat, various knots and how to rig the Sonars. David and Arielle then taught the kids how a sailboat race actually works. We then hit the water and immediately handed the tiller and lines over to the kids. We did some practice laps around a windward/leeward course and then started right into races. The kids were definitely competitive; but no matter win or lose, they were working together to make the boat go upwind and downwind.

How did this idea of taking children out sailing come about? “I use to work for a non-profit community sailing center, Sail Nauticus, in Norfolk. This program took children from Title 1 schools in Norfolk and taught these kids how to sail from 6th to 8th grade. It was one of the coolest programs I was able to work for. I told David about this program and of course he fell in love with the idea. After forming our team, Team HDsailing, img_8088and starting our campaign for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we knew part of our campaign would be working with various non-profits and giving back to the communities by giving the gift of sailing. Kenneth Grahame wrote ‘There’s nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.’ That quote is so true and shown by seeing the kids’ faces light up on Sunday at Hampton Yacht Club when they were able to take control of the tiller and steer these Sonars around a race course. And knowing that on Monday when they returned to school, they were able to talk in nautical language and tell all their friends and loved ones that they were able to go sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Nothing is more rewarding than that.”  – Arielle Darrow

“Watching the expression on the kids faces when they first met us, filled with fear and anxiety of what was to come out on the unknown waters on a craft they were unfamilliar with showed me the impact that sailing can have on someone. In the first moment when we handed the tiller over to each child and they realized that they were in complete control of the boat, you could see a slight glimmer in their eyes. It was almost as if they were starting to realize that they could control not only the boat, but that they had the power to do the same with other aspects of their lives. That as long as they believe in themselves and work hard towards something that nothing in the world can stop them from becoming exactly what they want to become in this world. When we got back in and the kids started asking to sail with us again, I realized that this sport has the power to change someones entire perspective on linfe. Blessings in a Backpack has given us an amazing opportunity to work with these great kids and I am extremely excited to continue to work with them to empower the youth of this community throughout our Olympic Campaign.” – David Hein








Learn about our chance encounter with Blessings in a backpack at Kentucky Oaks

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