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Club donates good boat for good cause

Languishing at Essex Yacht Club, 16-foot sailboat will get plenty of use with Special Olympics team

Languishing at Essex Yacht Club, 16-foot sailboat will get plenty of use with Special Olympics team

The Pilots Point Pirates, one of Connecticut’s Special Olympics sailing teams, recently received a 16-foot Cape Cod Mercury class sailboat donated by the Essex Yacht Club, of Essex, Conn., for its program. “This is a very worthy cause,” says Essex Yacht Club commodore, Hans Ullstein. “There are half a dozen or so people in the area who participate, either sailing or instructing, so we thought it was something we should support.”

Since the club took on a fleet of Ideal 18s (a one-design class) last year, other boats like the 16-foot Mercury, Ullstein says, were taking up space.

“This boat wasn’t being used,” he says. “It was just sitting there.”

Of the club’s boats, Ullstein says the Mercury is perfect for the Pirates’ program. “They need boats that are sturdy,” he says. “This one is a keel boat and built like a tank. It’s easy to sail. I think they’ll like it.”

The Pirates, a team of approximately 20 sailors, is based at Brewer Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook, Conn. Team members meet every Monday night in the summer to practice their skills and for friendly racing. Their season is highlighted by three weekend races held at Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, Mitchell College in New London and the New England Invitational Regatta, hosted by the U.S. Navy War College in Newport, R.I.

At Pilots Point, the team has access to eight boats: six JY 15s and two Cape Cod Mercury class boats. Now they have nine.

“We thank the membership of the Essex Yacht Club for their support of the Special Olympics sailing program, and are delighted to accept this handsome green boat as the flagship of the Pirates’ fleet,” Special Olympics Connecticut president Beau Doherty says in a statement.

The Special Olympics is an organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for people with intellectual disabilities. According to its Web site,, sailing is one of the organization’s newer sports, having been introduced in the 1995 World Games. Today, nearly 900 athletes from 19 Special Olympics programs compete in sailing.