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A Short History Of Tahoe Community Sailing and The Tahoe Community Sailing Foundation (TCSF)

Updated: Jun 19, 2022

Since its inception the Tahoe Community Sailing Program has served over 2,500 students who have been trained in such areas as: boating/sailing safety; sailing skill development; sailboat racing strategy; teamwork; leadership and sportsmanship. The Program has served the community sailing instruction needs of students from beginners to advanced racers. The partnership between TCPUD and TCSF has proven to be highly complementary and effective. All parties have been willing and able to meet their commitments and responsibilities.

In 2001, Tahoe Community Sailing developed out of a need to establish a Junior Sailing program for the Tahoe Yacht Club (TYC) and the need for a community sailing program for our venue at Tahoe. The original concept was to develop a public/private partnership with key organizations that included TYC, and their Foundation, and the Tahoe City Recreation Dept. (TCPUD) for the establishment of this program. The goal was to start a program to serve the needs of TYC and for the community for both youth and adult sailing education. In this process they employed the tactics of the US Sailing organization. This process led to identifying key members of a partnership that felt could guide us to success. Other partners who were subsequently identified as important players included local boat dealers, a marina with excellent water access, and a local sail loft. Tahoe provides a breath taking environment for sailing. Tahoe Community Sailing Program (TCSP) is located on West Shore. Lake Tahoe adjacent to Obexers Marina & Boat Company, about 4 miles south of Tahoe City.

Normal sailing wind conditions at the location are light in the morning (2-5 knots) and moderate in the afternoon (5-8 knots). This location at Obexers has a large beach area providing storage for boats and for classes to operate under tents. This partnership arrangement is structured so that we have both winter storage and marina services that include fork lift, launching ramp, equipment repair, storage of safety boats and winter storage for small sailboats. This area of the lake is also gets very deep just off shore allowing us to beach the sailboats and safety boats without fear of hitting rocks.

Even though the facilities and operations are simple compared to larger sailing programs there is effective use of all assets on the beach. There is a floating dock anchored to the beach and several permanent moorings for the larger dinghies to augment the beach storage for the 25 Pico sailboats, five FJs, two 420s. The larger dinghies are RS Venture 17s. Three 17 foot Boston Whalers along with one 19 foot Bay Liner (used for back-up if a Whaler is down) make up the safety/coach boat fleet. Pico sailboats were chosen for the basic teaching boat because their roto-molded construction provides a very tough hull surface that resists rocky beaches at Tahoe. The move from the state beach to Obexers has been a significant enhancement to the program primarily because of the expanded facilities, and the deep water just off the beach.

Tahoe Community Sailing Program (Program) has been the recipient of a number of awards for excellence since its inception. They were named the Best Recreation Program in California, for small communities, by the California Parks Association in 1993. In 2008 they received the Outstanding Seasonal Program award from US Sailing. The Pacific Inter Yacht Club Association presented their Condon Trophy Award for exceptional service for the development of Youth and Adult Sailing to our Program Director in 2015. While these types of awards can enhance the program’s reputation and help with funding efforts, awards are not the true measure of a program’s success. The real success is best seen in the results of these students as sailors and citizens. We always strive to teach our students to be winners in life as well as on the race course. This is the true measure of a sailing programs success -- the development of partnerships have been the keystone of the success. In the process of starting and growing the program they have strived to build effective partnerships with all the stakeholders in the boating industry in the California/Tahoe region. The establishment of this public/private partnership has served the program well since it has provided the best of both the public advantages of lower cost insurance, management of student intake, accounting and parks support staff. These advantages, along with very valuable access to both of the facilities of the TCPUD and the TYC, have been major assets.

As the program has grown it has been proactive in adding other important partners as well. In 2003, it partnered with the California Department of Boating & Waterways (CADBW) in the provision of boating safety education to become one of their boating safety education programs. CADBW is a nationally recognized leader in the promotion of boating safety and environmental protection. As a result of this partnership the program has been the recipient of grant funding to the TCPUD for the safety programs which has provided a significant expansion of the fleet of sailboats and our safety boats as well. It has also benefitted by having access to boating safety and environmental educational materials from the State at no cost. CADBW has a legal mandate in California to enhance environmental protection and to reduce boating accidents and deaths and we address these topics meticulously in our student education programs.

For the past ten years the program has provided a Junior Sailing Assistant Program designed to and develop our own students to be our future instructors and leaders. This informal program’s success has led us to a more formalized Youth Leadership Development Program that has paid dividends to the program. This program is designed to develop the junior leadership skills and to help them be “winners in life” as well as winners on the race course. In this program the goal is to teach both leadership skills as they relate to sailing and role modeling which is the essence of leadership.


n the area of financial development, the Tahoe Community Sailing Foundation (Foundation) was created after exploring as many options and funding sources. Establishing a 501(c)3 public educational foundation was the first step in this process. Key in this process was establishing a good working relationship with the IRS staff responsible for approving this request for the 501(c)3 status, and during the application process there was clear emphases regarding the educational aspects of the planned programs along with our need for non-profit status. The 501(c)3 status provided the sailing program with a number of advantages including a simplified and reduced tax obligation with the IRS. This 501(c)3 status enhances the possibility of both financial donations and boat donations to the Foundation in support of the Program is a prime role for programs similar to ours nationwide. Also, the Foundation applies for grants from a number of organizations that have youth programs, boating and environmental protection as their areas of mandate.

Directly below is the TCSF mission, or the Statement of Goals as outlined in Article IV of TCSF’s document of incorporation. These nine objectives serve as the organizing theme of the specific guidelines for the administration of the Tahoe Community Sailing Program.


  1. Raise funds for the Tahoe City Community Sailing Program training classes on Lake Tahoe.

  2. Help at-risk youth participants through scholarships in conjunction with organizations such as Boy's and Girl's Club, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Achieve Tahoe, etc.

  3. Fit the needs of community organizations to provide safe and effective Junior Sailing/Boating programs.

  4. Provide summer sailing activities that will provide at-risk youth a satisfying educational activity that will help direct their lives in a positive direction.

  5. Provide funds for equipment, supplies and 4-day student training classes from May to September each year.

  6. Teach the principles of good sportsmanship, development of youth leadership skills and self-esteem through courses and programs of US Sailing.

  7. Promote community interest by providing an opportunity for participation in sailing/boating at Lake Tahoe. This will include safe and effective training for future members of the sailing/boating community.

  8. Develop community-wide partnerships with groups having similar interests in recreational boating. Our goal is to expand interest and participation of Lake Tahoe's youth in sailing and boating through a joint community program.

  9. Teach aspects of environmental protection as it relates to sailing and boating.

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