UYC blue and gold logo with UYC in the middle top, and Maritime Foundation, INC underneath.Ever since it was incorporated on Jan. 5, 2006, the UYC Maritime Foundation has been a champion of water safety, boating education, youth sailing programs and community scholarships. From sponsoring multi-week junior sailing programs each summer to being a strong supporter of the Lanier Tech Marine Engine Technology curriculum, the organization’s presence is making a difference in North Georgia and the Lake Lanier community.

“Our intent and mission has always been to focus on maritime-related goals,” said Wayne Flanagan, chairman of the organization based in Flowery Branch. “Over the years, our outreach has expanded to include sailing instruction for an area high school, and a hands-on STEM program for middle school students, as well as boat rides for individuals with special needs.”

The foundation’s financial support has come mostly from donations, sponsorships and various fund-raising events.

“Although the Maritime Foundation is a separate organization from University Yacht Club, club members and friends of University Yacht Club often provide hands-on assistance and volunteer services,” he said. “For instance, when we began our Junior Sailing Program 14 years ago, many members stepped up to help us build our initial fleet of Optimist Prams – 12 in all – so that our youngest aspiring sailors would have boats for instruction.”

Club members have funded the purchase of specialized boats, including O’pen BIC boats, Lasers, 420s and Sunfish.

“Our club members are always at the ready to volunteer for our projects, from preparing meals and snacks for the Juniors to providing their own sailboats for the students to experience the sport from another perspective,” Flanagan said.

On-the-water learning

View of lake with multiple small sailboats with youth sailing them.

UYC Maritime Foundation supports the annual Junior Sailing Program.

“Since the junior program began, approximately 200 students have learned to sail and built their confidence and teamwork skills,” said Susan Reddaway, director of the Junior Program. “About a dozen of the original students have come back year after year and are now coaching for us. It’s so rewarding to see how well they’re doing and how much this program has influenced the lives of all our students.”

Last year, the UYC Foundation partnered with America’s Boating Club Atlanta to work with students from Eagle Ranch during a special week of sailing instruction. “Club members volunteered their support and they also fund this program.

The UYC Maritime Foundation will once again conduct sailing instruction in partnership with Eagle Ranch for one week of instruction similar to the junior sailing program. The foundation will be hosting Eagle Ranch house parents and staff for a separate staff appreciation day.

“We know we can always count on the members of University Yacht Club to support worthwhile foundation activities,” Flanagan said. “Whether sharing their knowledge, their time or their resources, it’s always a benefit to the community.”

Beyond the conventional

Close up of people sitting on a large sailboat.

Robotics team with UYC member Kent Rogers at the helm.

Several years ago, Sharon Elementary School teacher Wendy Wing connected with Flanagan and the foundation to give her students some hands-on experience as they prepared for the FIRST LEGO League Razorback Invitational, an international robotics competition with 80 teams from around the globe. The STEM competition involved developing a way to cut costs on international cargo shipping.

On paper, they had developed an X-Wing Kite Sail that could be retrofitted to cargo ships, but none of them had ever been on a sailboat to see how a sail works.

“Club members stepped up with their sailboats and took team members out to see how a sail works,” Flanagan said. “The students saw first hand how the wind affects a sail, plus how wind direction, sail shape and other factors effect efficiency. A couple of the students were so excited about the experience that they participated in our junior program that summer.”

Educational support and scholarships

Club members are taking their outreach into the classroom by mentoring students in the West Hall High School Sailing program. By providing on-the-water experiences, the students are learning sailing techniques and boating safety.

“For a number of years, marine repair shops have found it difficult to hire qualified marine technicians, so we have been assisting with setting up the program at Lanier Tech,” Flanagan said. “About eight years ago, we began a partnership with Lanier Tech to support their program and also offer scholarships to help fill this need.”

More than 20 scholarships have been awarded to Lanier Tech students based on recommendations from school advisers.

The foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that promotes education and instruction of sailing and power boating, especially with regards to water safety, for youth and adults. In addition to the annual youth scholarships, the organization presents three weeks of youth and junior sailing education each summer, the Hot Ruddered Bum February lake-wide sailing regatta and the November Lanier Cup, a lake-wide sailing clubs championship. It is supported by donations from individuals, sponsorships, businesses and various fund-raising events.

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Photos: courtesy UYC Maritime Foundation


UYC scholarships awarded to area high school seniors

For 16 years, high school seniors attending West Hall High School and Flowery Branch High School have benefited from the UYC Maritime Foundation Scholarship Program.

Open to graduating seniors at each high school, the scholarships for $2,500 each are based on a combination of written applications and one-on-one interviews with representatives of the UYC Maritime Foundation.

“All of the scholarship recipients have outstanding grades and are involved in an impressive array of extracurricular activities,” said Irmina Owens, chair of the scholarship committee of the foundation. “They all work during the summer and many also work during the school year. Each has demonstrated that they are deserving of the scholarship.”

Recipients from West Hall High School are Christopher Sembler, Kevin Soto and Maddox Wilson.

Students from Flowery Branch High School who received scholarships are Casey Beaver, Logan Magnuson and Autumn York.

Their areas of study ranged from engineering and architecture to nursing/healthcare and art education.

“We were so impressed with the quality of the students and the way they presented themselves to us,” she said. “All the applicants had impressive credentials, making our decision all the more difficult.”

In all more than 70 scholarships have been awarded to local students since the program began.