Wounded veterans welcome the challenge of sailing

San Diego-based sailing program provides sailing resources for war veterans.

SAN DIEGO — Twenty wounded, ill and injured service members graduated last month from a basic training camp unlike any other training they encountered during their military service. The new challenge: Learn how to sail.

For three days participants from all branches of the military – all with varying injuries – attended classes and spent time on the water as part of the instructional sessions organized by San Diego Yacht Club and the Warrior Sailing Program (WSP). The free program was held at San Diego YC’s Malin Burnham Sailing Center where the military students also utilized the club’s fleet of J-22 sailboats, outfitted with adaptive technology brought in by the WSP, during on-the-water practice exercises.

“The goal is to share the spirit of sailing with our military warriors and to teach them skills on the water and for a better quality of life,” said WSP co-founder and Paralympic medalist Jen French.

The training camp also focuses on military camaraderie as veterans sail as a team of threes.

WSP is a program of the United States Merchant Marines Academy (USMMA) Sailing Foundation driven by a mission to introduce active military and veterans with disabilities to sailing. Opportunities range from introductorily level coursed to world championship competition.

Graduates from the Basic Training Camp also learned about local sailing opportunities and those in their hometowns. Select graduates will join the Warrior Sailing Team to learn advanced racing skills and compete in open and disabled racing events both across the country and around the world.

More information on the WSP can be found at

—Emily Willhoft

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