by Andrea Stringos
Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC) was founded
58 years ago by a group of Miami residents that wished to
establish a safe venue to teach children to sail and to run
sailboat races for the community. The City of Miami granted
them a lease on a parcel of land that was in the middle of
park land that had been given to the city. This land has a
deed restriction limiting usage to parks and recreational
only. The original CGSC had no club house, merely a storage
shack. There were no moorings - at that time the State owned
the water and sailors just anchored out in the basin.
after the CGSC was
established, a group of local Coconut Grove residents sued
the CGSC because they felt that a "private club"
was not a proper use of the park facility. The State ruled
in favor of the CGSC since its activities (teaching sailing,
running sailboat races, and providing access to the bay) were
the years, as various leases expired, the City of Miami required
new capital improvements. At some point, the custom of using
the sailboat basin as a free anchorage area was terminated,
and the CGSC took over the management of the sailboat basin
on behalf of the City. The shack got progressively bigger,
docks were added, and finally, the City requested the building
of the present clubhouse in order to retain a lease. Although
it was a heavy financial burden, CGSC members paid for the
building and even
contributed their physical labor to maintain it in order to
keep the costs down.
CGSC has been a leader
in the sailing community. The CGSC provides public access
to the water and water activities. It runs adult sailing classes,
children's classes, racing education programs, community service
sailing programs and free sailing classes. All of these programs
are open to the public on a first-come first-serve basis,
and where we charge fees it is at a considerably lower rate
than those charged by other organizations. These classes have
been offered for 58 years. The club has produced many world
class racers. Just recently, Augie Diaz won the 2003 Snipe
world championships in Sweden.
CGSC also runs sailboat races.
is a labor intensive activity, and our race management is
very highly regarded. Racing runs the gamut from local Biscayne
Bay Yacht Racing Association (BBYRA) races that are open to
the public through membership in BBYRA (the annual cost ranges
from $126 to $220), to free club races open to the public
without restriction, to national and international events.
The CGSC runs international races for the Olympics, the Orange
Bowl, the Snipe and Lightning fleets. Last year we were the
hosting venue for the entire Olympic Classes regatta co-ordinating
the efforts of five different sailing organizations from the
CGSC property. Locally, the CGSC race committee has run races
for the 2.4 meter Worlds at Shake-A-Leg, and for many years
was the host club for the Wednesday night Shake-A-Leg races.
These events are fully open to the public and non-members
use our facilities in order to participate in the races.
addition to sailing education and race management programs,
the CGSC is very community minded. We are generous with our
club space, and welcome community non-profit organizations
to the club, opening up the meeting room at no charge. Some
of the organizations using our facility without charge include
the Guardian Ad Litem for their training programs, NAMI (National
Association for Mental Illness) for their monthly meetings,
the Biscayne Bay Park's annual Discovery Lecture Series which
is open to the public, the Central Grove H.O.A. meeting, the
Fl. Bandmaster Association and the Dental Leaders Executive
Association. In addition, the CGSC hosts the regular meetings
of other non-profit organizations such as the C.G. Rotary
club, the Biscayne Bay Sailing Club, and the Venture Sailing
CGSC also offers
community outreach programs. We have long partnered with the
Sierra club which offers environmental outings on CGSC member's
boats to inner city residents. We have also established the
"Intro to the Bay" program where we partner with
the Virrick Park and Community Center in West Coconut Grove
and the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove. This program is aimed
at getting the graduates of the Virrick Swimming Program (funded
by the Woman's club) into our optimist pram sailing classes.
This summer we have brought optimist pram sailboats to the
Virrick pool and introduced beginning swimmers to sailing.
All Virrick Pool participants who pass the Red Cross Swimming
certification receive scholarships to the CGSC summer sailing
CGSC offers many programs that are open to the public on a
first-come first-served basis. Club membership does offer
certain privileges and is available to all members of the
public without restriction limited only to their ability to
pay the nominal membership fees. The CGSC is operated as a
Look for additional bits about our early pioneers on this
page in my Website in the next months.