Islander Todd Feinroth plans to teach under-served students how to sail aboard the classic racing yacht, “Freedom.” Photo courtesy of Todd Feinroth

Islander Todd Feinroth plans to teach under-served students how to sail aboard the classic racing yacht, “Freedom.” Photo courtesy of Todd Feinroth

Islander launches sailing nonprofit

The program aims to help under-served youth apply their educational studies to the art of sailing.

Todd Feinroth, a Mercer Island resident and avid sailor, wanted to find a way to share his passion and give back to the broader Seattle area community.

Earlier this year, he launched a nonprofit called Sailing Education Adventures (SEA). Its mission is to provide a platform of experiential learning for under-served youth by applying their educational studies to the art of sailing aboard a classic racing yacht.

“I want to recruit kids who are passionate about science, technology or literature and help them apply that to the art of sailing,” he said, while also providing an opportunity to get out on the water that some low-income students may not have otherwise.

Feinroth’s dad taught him how to sail when he was 9 or 10 years old, he said.

“I had a fascination with astronomy, and I used to love reading books about explorers,” he said. “The Earth is 75 percent water, so what better way to see it than from a boat?”

He also said he wasn’t excited about math and science as a student until he realized how it could be applied to something he loved.

“Those of us who have the opportunity to enrich the lives of our children through boating and sailing in the Pacific Northwest are very fortunate,” Feinroth wrote in an email to the Reporter. “However, there are under-served youth in the Puget Sound area who are not as fortunate and don’t have the same opportunity to share in this fulfilling experience.”

SEA is bridging the divide and offers a platform for under-served youth to have the opportunity to participate in our rich maritime history and community while broadening their personal experiences by learning how to sail, race and care for classic racing yachts.

Feinroth started discussions with the administration and some teachers at Rainier Beach High School, who seem interested in the idea, and will soon develop a curriculum. Sailing incorporates elements of geometry, physics, trigonometry, navigation and weather he said.

“I want them to apply what they’re learning in school to something fun and memorable,” he said.

Feinroth also wants to involve educators in the programming and field trips, as well as maritime professionals who could serve as mentors and volunteers. Another unique aspect of the program is the vessel being used.

“The third leg of the stool is that I didn’t want to do this on an ordinary sailboat, but a classic yacht,” Feinroth said.

He acquired a “first classic pedigree yacht” for the program: a 51-footer named “Freedom.”

“She is a John Alden design and built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company,” he wrote, noting it was the last pre-WWII ocean racing yacht built by the company.

Freedom was launched on June 15, 1938, and has “a lot of character and history,” Feinroth said. It’s also in need of some restoration, which will teach the students other skills, along with how to be a “good steward” of history, he said.

The boat, “truly a rare classic sailing yacht,” is currently berthed in Port Townsend, and Feinroth plans to run the program in Puget Sound.

Participating youth will have the option to crew on weekend sailing excursions or a one week long sailing excursion on the yacht next spring and summer. Feinroth also plans to have the crew participate in amateur competitions.

Feinroth is currently looking for donations to the program, of funds or supplies, and help with the boat restoration and establishing a scholarship fund. He’s building a website and a board of directors, and planning a local fundraiser in the spring.

For more, contact Feinroth at 206-920-7337 or sailsmantf@gmail.com.

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