Renovation for a Sailing Renaissance

Jobson_Hall of Fame
Chris White Design Incorporated

The U.S. Naval Academy describes its vision for upgrading its sail training program as a "renaissance in sailing" and has made a total upgrade and expansion of the Academy's sailing facility a cornerstone of the initiative. Readers who have been to the Academy have seen the Santee Basin, next to the Robert Crown Center. They know it's packed with sailboats and might wonder why an upgrade is needed for a program with 22 Collegiate 420s, 96 Lasers, 22 Colgate 26s, 20 McCurdy & Rhodes 44-foot sloops, 22 Club Juniors, six Tech Dinghies, two Interclubs, 14 J/24s, 30 Knockabouts, and six offshore boats ranging from 35 to 60 feet. The Naval Academy has used sail training to develop the skills of midshipmen since 1845 when the Academy was founded. But in modern times, relatively few of the 4,100 midshipman at the Academy spend more than a couple days in a sailboat. Now a new plan is being phased in: all midshipmen will be required to become qualified to skipper a Colgate 26, and in the summer months every midshipman will complete an offshore cruise on one of the 44-footers. Superintendent Vice Admiral Rodney P. Rempt believes sail training is essential: "Sailing provides a crucible for midshipmen to practice leadership and will become a cornerstone of every midshipman's professional development. We will focus on the skills of a mariner, such as basic seamanship, watch standing, smallboat handling, and weather forecasting." To accommodate up to 1,200 midshipmen annually on three-week summer cruises, a new, larger fleet of 44s will be built over three years, 10 per year, gradually replacing the 20-year-old McCurdy & Rhodes 44s. Meantime, the 30-year-old Robert Crown Center, a distinctive Academy landmark, has been overhauled. The Center overlooks the Severn River and houses briefing rooms, lockers, gear storage, and the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame. In the past year, a $4.15 million renovation project, funded through private donations, added a new wing and 4,000 square feet of space to the Center. That includes two new classrooms, a women's locker room, and more staff offices. Donations were led by the Crown Family, which originally provided the gift for the building in 1971 in memory of Captain Robert Crown, a distinguished veteran of World War II. The upper deck of the Center has been home to the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame since the early '70s and now honors 150-plus sailors and coaches. The Afterguard, a group of former collegiate sailors led by Harry Anderson (Yale '43), Ted Livingston (San Diego '49) and Jim Rousmaniere (Harvard '40) have raised more than $200,000 to refurbish the Hall of Fame. The Crown Center renovation is complete, and the Hall of Fame room will be finished and open to the public in October, featuring also for the first time the four major trophies of high school sailing's Interscholastic Sailing Association. If you're in the Annapolis area, it'll be well worth a visit. So why renovate? Why elevate college sailing further? It's an activity that builds certain qualities, with which Admiral Rempt hopes to imbue his midshipmen: "Good seamanship, teamwork, perseverance, and a desire to win." Ed.'s note: The author chairs the Fales Committee, which advises the Naval Academy on its waterfront activities.