In Our Community— (NEXT)

Chicago Sailing Camp Sets Sights on Diversifying Sport

A sailing camp aims to broaden the reach of a largely white and affluent sport

The Jackson Park Yacht Club on Chicago’s South Side doesn’t run the only sailing camp in the city, but it may be the most diverse. “We used to have a junior sailing program for many, many years,” Yacht Club Commodore Karen Harris said, “and then it went defunct in the 1980s. So I really wanted to make sure that we brought it back to life.”

One reason, Harris says, is that the sport needs new sailors. But they have another goal: to broaden the reach of a sport that is generally white and affluent.

Harris, who is African-American and has been sailing since she was a child, says this year they also offer scholarships. Of the 132 kids in camp, nearly two-thirds are on full scholarship. “The kids themselves don’t know who’s on scholarship and who’s not on scholarship,” Harris said, “nor do the instructors.” 

Black Sailors in Chicago Chart a New Course

While African-Americans may be a small fraction of sailors nationwide – and especially rare in racing, the Jackson Park Yacht Club, based in Jackson Park Harbor on the South Side is, they say, the largest community of black sailors in the country.

The club has 400 members – and three hundred are African-American.

In recent years, the Jackson Park Yacht Club has focused hard on outreach, including affordable sailing lessons for adults – and even a free sailing camp this year for kids.

NOTE: In 1994, an African American group of sailors of both men and women became the first to enter the race from Chicago to Mackinaw from Jackson Park. Solo-circumnavigator, Captain Bill Pinkney was a part of this crew.

Before that, in 1966, a group of African American sailors out of Burham Harbor attempted the race, unsuccessfully.

Interviewed by Sailing Anarchy — Jackson Park Yacht Club Commodore Karen Harris talks bout reaching the “other” demographic in sailing—the one no one talks about. US Sailing #sailingleadership Forum.

JPYC Foundation Receives
501(C) (3) Approval

Launches Summer 2018

Scholarships Available | FORMS

Located in South Shore, one of Chicago’s neighborhoods hardest hit by gun and youth violence, the Jackson Park Yacht Club (“JPYC”) and its foundation, the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation (“JPYC Foundation) sees on a daily basis the devastation that such violence has had on our community and its youth.

In order to combat the dramatic increase in youth and gun violence in Chicago, and in particular in its neighborhood, South Shore, and the surrouding neighborhoods in the summer of 2018, the JPYC Foundation is launching the Open Horizons Youth Sailing Program.

This program, which will target low-income, minority, at-risk children and youth ages 8-18, will teach leadership, teamwork and conflict resolution skills through sailing. The program will run from June to August and will consist of five sessions of two weeks each. Classes will be held Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Instruction will take place in Jackson Park Outer Harbor in Lake Michigan and will include both classroom and hands-on on-the-water activities. The program will be overseen by our Sailing Program Director Classes and a staff of instructors all of whom will be US Sailing Certified instructors (Level 1 and Reach/STEM certification).

If you know of a child, ages 8-18, who would benefit from this program please encourage them to complete the online application form.

CPD Video Series Presents : A look back at the Gold Star Regatta

This program is generously funded, in part, by:


For more information about The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities please visit their website at


Recipient of the First Jim Webb Sailing
Scholarship Fund

Named after multi-generational member and past Commodore of Jackson Park Yacht Club (“JPYC”), the Jimmy Webb Youth Sailing Fund provides scholarships for sailing lessons to youth in need.
Kim Webb (right) and the first Jimmy Webb scholarship participant, Gabby Wright, and her mother Joanie Wright along with Commodore Karen Harris.
Jimmy Webb’s lifelong love of sailing started as a child when his family were members at JPYC. This fund, named in his honor, provides the opportunity for the next generation of sailors to learn and enjoy the sport of sailing and safety equipment.
Donations to the fund is used to provide scholarships for children’s sailing lessons to train instructors and to purchase sailing and safety equipment.

Gold Star Sailing Regatta® Brings Community Involvement


The Gold Star Regatta is a fundraiser sailing race created by JPYC member, Marlon Harvey, founder of the Chicago Police Sailing Association, to help support surviving family members of Chicago Police Officers that were killed in the line of duty. 2017 was the first year for the Gold Star Regatta. The race was hosted by Jackson Park Yacht Club and benefits the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, the Brotherhood for the Fallen and the 100 Club of Chicago. JPYC is proud to sponsor the Gold Star Regatta as a way for Chicago’s sailing community to honor and support our Chicago’s fallen police officers and their families that have suffered the ultimate sacrifice.


JPYC Meets With Jackson Park Re-Development of Local Golf Course / Proposed Jackson Park Inner & Outer Harbor

Open Horizons Youth
Sailing Program

Chicago Junior Race Week

Sponsored by


CHICAGO, IL 41.46.50 | 87.34.42


Kim Webb (right) and the first Jimmy Webb scholarship participant, Gabby Wright, and her mother Joanie Wright along with Commodore Karen Harris.


Jackson Park Yacht Club
Promotes Sailing and Boating Education in Hyde Park
4th of July Parade



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Chicago, Illinois 60649

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Ship 5212 turns up to clean up 63rd Street Beach! And clean up we did! 1st Mate Candace made us clean every square inch of that beach filling buckets with plastic, metal and glass trash! GREAT JOB SCOUTS!!

Special thanks to The Great Lakes Alliance and the Shedd Aquarium for organizing this event!

Sea Scouts Clean 63rd Beach

2017 was the inaugural year for the Chicago Junior Race Week (CJRW). JPYC, in collaboration with Chicago Yacht Club, Burnham Park Yacht Club, Columbia Yacht Club and Corinthian Yacht Club, organized CJRW which was also sponsored by Harken. 125 boats, from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Maryland and St. Thomas, entered the 3-day regatta which included a distance race, called the “Mini Mac” and buoy races for all levels. JPYC hosted the Green/Beginner fleet in its harbor. This annual event is expected to grow and become one of the premium junior racing events in the Midwest.

JPYC’s Bridge, Board and members have been actively meeting with officials from the Obama Foundation and other groups involved in the development of the Obama Presidential Center and the re-development of the Jackson Park golf course. In particular, JPYC presented a proposal to redesign Jackson Park Inner and Outer harbors as part of the redevelopment in order to provide boaters with greater access to these harbors. The proposal, which was conceived of by former Commodore Jimmy Webb, was well-received by community groups.

With two floats with themes based on Disney’s “Moana”, an little girl’s sailing adventure, and “Ships Ahoy”, JPYC proudly marched in the annual Hyde Park 4th of July Parade. In addition to having a good time, JPYC distributed brochures to the crowd about its sailing lessons and encouraged the community to become active in boating and enjoying Chicago’s beautiful lakefront.


Two Full Lockers with Life Jackets
Available for All Children and Adults

JPYC Participate in a the Military Outreach USA — Sail for Veterans. - July 1, 2018
Jackson Park Yacht Club had six boats participating. Thirty verterans showed up for a sail with members. It was truly an all-out success. Boats that participated, i b @ sea.calm (Pam Rice); Dave Cox (Electra); Mischeif (Dave Travis); Maggie Marie (Marlon Harvey); Golden Dream ( Luke and Laura Wolbrink); Nightwatch (Jim Lett); Dick Baumann (Andale); Kristopher Reichert ( Angry Sloth); Bob Craven (Ahab)

The Gold Star Regatta is a fundraiser sailing race that was created by the Chicago Police Sailing Association to help support surviving family members of Chicago Police Officers that were killed in the line of duty. 2017 is the first year for the Gold Star Regatta. The race is hosted by Jackson Park Yacht Club and is being supported by the 100 Club of IL. All sailors are invited to enter their boats into the race even if you don’t have racing experience. Each registered boat will create a page and URL on the fundraising site where your supporters can donate to your boat or team in support of our Chicago Police families. It is your participation in this race that will give the sailing community of Chicago an opportunity to help our surviving family members of fallen Police Officers.

The sailing community of Chicago can honor and support our fallen Officers and their families that have suffered the ultimate sacrifice.


The Gold Star Regatta®

As you may know in addition to Jackson Park Yacht Club (“JPYC”) we have a separate entity – the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation (“JPYC Foundation”). Formed in 2012, the JPYC Foundation was created to serve as the charitable branch of JPYC to promote boating education. Specifically the JPYC Foundation’s mission is to is to provide outreach, education, training, support and resources necessary to engage young people and adults in boating and other activities on and around the water, including non-traditional participants in boating activities. 
I am pleased to announce that on March 1, 2018 the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation (“JPYC Foundation”) received its IRS 501(c)(3) approval effective January 27, 2018.
This means that the JPYC Foundation is tax-exempt entity and donations to it are tax deductible for donors. We hope that you will consider the JPYC Foundation as part of your future giving and encourage others to do so as well.
In the coming weeks we will share more about the JPYC Foundation and the charitable activities and programs that it will be sponsoring during the 2018 season, including how you can become involved.
We are excited about this wonderful opportunity to be of service in our community and hope that you are too. 
Thank you to everyone who helped in this process and congratulations to the JPYC Foundation on its 501(C)(3) status!
Wishing you fair winds and following seas.

Karen Harris
Commodore, JPYC


Thanks to True Star for visiting with us at Jackson Park Yacht Club and our Open Horizons Youth Sailing Program students. Thanks for creating this amazing video and sharing it so more youth can find out about it. And of course, thank you to Chicago Safe and Peaceful Communities for their generous support of this program.