The Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS) seeks to make all aspects of sailing accessible. To fulfill this mission, we offer weekly dinghy sailing, keelboat sailing, and Veterans sailing out of South Beach Marina, adjacent to AT&T Park. In addition to our weekly sailing programs, BAADS hosts and participates in a variety of regattas and informal races both locally and internationally. To find out about racing opportunities, visit our race page.
Our keelboat fleet includes five keelboats, each specially rigged and equipped with adaptive features to make sailing the San Francisco Bay possible for people with disabilities. Additionally, we have 23 Access Dinghies, ranging in size from 8 to 14 feet long, all of which are specifically designed for people with disabilities. Some of these are equipped with servo motors so that people with severe physical disabilities can sail solo.
We serve approximately 50 participants each weekend. Our participants range in age from eight to 80 and include people with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities. Some participants have never sailed before and some have been sailing all their lives. Through our sailing programs, participants learn to sail by themselves in the dinghy program and as part of a crew in the keelboat program.
We run all our programs through volunteers. Our board has thirteen people, and our volunteer base supplies anywhere from 3 to 10 volunteers per weekend. Our volunteer base is our lifeline–our programs couldn’t function without dedicated people who are reliable and have at least some knowledge of sailing and equipment. We invest a significant amount of time and effort in recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers. Learn how to become a volunteer at our volunteer page.
Throughout its 23 year history, BAADS has been supported by individual donations and donations and grants from organizations like Kiwanis Club, APL, America One Foundation, St. Francis Yacht Club, and The Cove Foundation. To learn more about how you can help, visit our donation page.
A Short History of the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors 1987 — 2011
Edited and prepared By: Herb Meyer, Staff Commodore, BAADS on December, 2006 and updated December, 2008. Updated September 5, 2011, by Cristina Rubke.
BAADS is the outgrowth of the Lake Merritt Adapted Boating Program in Oakland. Glo Wiebel, Director of the Lake Merritt Program dedicated herself to organizing a Bay sailing program for sailors with disabilities. With a group of sailing students from Lake Merritt, a core group was founded to launch BAADS in 1987 and 1988.
BAADS became a reality when, through the generosity of Everett Pearson, a new 20 foot Freedom Independence boat was shipped from Rhode Island in 1988. Gary Mull, the late East Bay naval architect, had designed this boat, especially to meet the needs of mobility-impaired sailors. The Manatee gave BAADS a focus for its activities. The original arrangement was to have BAADS pay for the boat as money was raised, but in 1988, fund-raising proved all but impossible. Also, storage and docking facilities costs were prohibitive for the small group.
Grant Ross, with a young girl with a disability named Nyri Scanlon, who is still an active member of BAADS, made a documentary film of the new Freedom 20 sailing down the Sacramento River as part of a plan to raise awareness about sailing for persons with disabilities. It was a great film, but not a great commercial success. Elected as the first BAADS Commodore was Howard Robinson, who auctioned his own skiff and other equipment at a fundraiser to help pay BAADS expenses. Small grants were received from IBM and the San Francisco Sailing Foundation, but it was clear that BAADS still had difficult financial problems.
In 1989, the tide turned when Ed Mackin suggested to BAADS’s new Commodore, Dave Stuart, that BAADS move to San Francisco and affiliate with the South Beach Yacht Club. Ed mentioned that SBYC had a commitment to support community-based sailing activities. With the wholehearted support of the founding members of SBYC, the Redevelopment Agency Commission of San Francisco agreed to provide a free slip for BAADS. SBYC invited BAADS to be part of its membership and to share the clubhouse facilities. BAADS had found a home!
BAADS blossomed in 1990. Skilled, excited, and enthusiastic new members came aboard. Margot Lynn began developing a sail training program. Sachi Itagaki began a regular newsletter and raised the standard of sailing skills. Dave Izant a longtime supporter, donated his beautiful Erickson 27, Endless Time, which became the flagship of the BAADS fleet. Several years later, Dave Izant donated his Ranger 29, Voyager, to the club which served us very well as our East Bay link at the Berkeley Marina.
Richard Skaff took over the helm as Commodore in 1991 developing contacts for contributions and support. Laurence Kornfield accepted the role as boatswain handling both boat maintenance and BAADS paperwork over a 10-year time frame.
In 1993, BAADS’s first class of skippers completed the American Sailing Association (ASA) Keelboat Certification Program. A grant from the Langendorf Foundation funded, the program for several years. Currently, ASA and/or US Sailing training classes are funded by donations to the organization. Our goal was to train eight skippers per year. BAADS could not have survived without the tireless support of Dan Sullivan and Dan Hill who took over the maintenance of our fleet of boats.
BAADS currently has four keelboats sailing out of the South Beach Harbor. A second Freedom, Independence boat, the Raven, was purchased in 1994. The original Freedom 20, Manatee was scrapped in 2003 due to hull failure and delamination. A Ranger 23, Heidi was purchased and upgraded in 2003. The Erickson 27, Endless Time, accidentally rammed the harbor’s seawall after a Christmas lighted boat parade and was totaled by the insurance company. A Catalina 30, Tashi, was donated to BAADS in 2003 and upgraded for sailing by sailors with disabilities. We sold the Ranger 29, Voyager in 2004. An Islander 36, Orion, was donated 2006 and subsequently upgraded to make it suitable for sailors with disabilities to handle the sheets and steering mechanism. Dan Leininger who has been in charge of qualifying skippers and crews for many years has made it possible for the Sunday Sailing to consistently send out three or four boats each Sunday with potential new members of BAADS. With more than 100 members and supporters, the BAADS burgee flies on the Bay on every weekend and often during the week.
BAADS members participate in activities that seemed unreachable just a few years ago; competing in local, national and international races, joining club cruises and social events, and probably most rewarding, sailing on San Francisco Bay with family and friends.
BAADS has encouraged its members to participate and support racing programs for its members. Herb Meyer has participated in eight US Sailing national championships, Paralympic trials in 1996 and 2000, and several international events in Canada, Italy and Australia. Several other BAADS members, have also participated in national championships and Paralympic qualification regattas.
In November, 2005, the South Beach Harbor ramps were made ADA compliant. The dinghy dock which was designed by the Harbor Master and San Francisco Redevelopment Commission was finally completed in the fall of 2005 after three or more years of planning and construction. The dock is shared with the South Beach Yacht Club for their Junior Sailing program.
During 2006, BAADS acquired 10 Access Dinghies — four 2.3 , four 3.03, and two Liberty model boats. In 2007, two more 3.03 Access Dinghies were acquired. In 2008, we acquired one Liberty with a Servo electric sail trimming and steering systems. We now have a total of 13 Access Dinghies which is the largest fleet on the West Coast and second only to the fleet at Shake A Leg in Miami, Florida. Significant grants and donations were received from the America One Foundation, American President Lines, St. Francis Yacht Club Foundation, and the Kiwanis Club of San Francisco
The Access Dinghies are used for sail training and racing by BAADS members each Saturday with weather permitting. We hope to encourage children with disabilities to participate in our ongoing instruction programs. We’ve already included schoolchildren and young people with disabilities from all over the Bay Area. Greg Williams was especially helpful in getting the Access Dinghy program underway. He ran a tight ship teaching a core of volunteers including John Wallace, Ted Abbott, Mike Murphy and others, who knew precisely how to rig the boats and sail them properly. Jeff Breen took over as director of the Dinghy Program in 2008.
BAADS hosted the first USA National Championship for the Liberty Access Dinghy Class on May 25 – 28, 2007. The sponsor of record for the regatta was the American President Lines who provided both significant financial support as well as a team of volunteers led by Mike Murphy. The race committee which included one starting line boat and two mark setting boats was led by John Craig, Racing Director of the St. Francis Yacht Club. A shipping container with 12 Liberty Access Dinghies was provided for the regatta by Access Dinghy Foundation from Melbourne, Australia. David Staley from Australia was greatly appreciated for his assistance in assembling the boats and providing technical advice regarding the rigging and operation of the Servo electric systems. A SCUD — 18 Class boat was also sent in the container to demonstrate the new two-person Paralympic class boat . The boat was designed and built by Chris Mitchell in collaboration with the designer of the 29er and 49er racing classes.
With with the availability of the Orion, an Islander 36, BAADS members have been able to participate in the overnight cruises in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, Ed Gallagher who is blind, has been able to demonstrate his state of the art computer technology and helmet cam which enables him to have someone in a remote location guide him to navigate and sail the Orion while sailing on the Bay. This new technology was also shown on a NBC Today morning television show giving both Ed and BAADS international publicity.
BAADS Commodores over the years:
1988 — 89 Howard Robinson
1989 — 91 David Stuart
1991 — 94 Richard Skaff
1994 — 96 Kathi Pugh
1996 — 98 Tom Fowle
1999 — 01 Anne Seik
2002 — 05 Herb Meyer
2006 — 2011 Ed Gallagher
2012 — 2015 Cristina Rubke
2016 — Present Dylan Young
Keelboat program, small boats, and more
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