Sailing Program Changing Lives

This summer, a group of five Veterans with no previous sailing experience became a winning team. The Eugene Rec River House Veterans Sailing Team placed first in the Fall Series and third in the Summer Series at Fern Ridge Reservoir, despite racing against teams with decades of experience. The team spanned three eras of military service — from Vietnam to Afghanistan to recent combat — and four branches of the military. Team member Phillip Hudspeth, a Coast Guard Veteran, is available for media interviews. “This was an amazing experience,” Hudspeth said. “We were a team of strangers, and we were novices when we stepped onto the boat. A lot of the training we experienced in the military — teamwork, vision, doing your job right — came together on the boat with our crew. There was a learning curve and there were snafus, but we had great coaches who gave us the tools to become proficient sailors. I would encourage any and all Veterans to participate.” This year marked the Vet Sailing program’s second season, although Eugene Rec’s River House Outdoor Program has run sailing programs since the early 1980s. Similar programs nationwide focus on teaching sailing but not typically on racing. “The program has become more than I ever could have hoped for,” program director and sailing coach Roger Bailey said. Bailey holds a vision of eventually traveling with the team outside of Oregon to race in larger, longer regattas lasting up to three weeks. The team received overwhelming support

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