Sailing education project sets sail

“I want to share my own personal love of sailing and the water to somebody else,” Carrie said.

The couple recently acquired five hand-built boats from Hudson Sailing Community in Manhattan. The New York-based organization sponsors an afterschool program in the winter where students build small sailing boats, staying busy during the off-season.

The Bergstroms have considered developing a sailing school for a number of years, and Lars happened to find the advertisement for the five skiffs as they began preliminary planning.

“We like to ramble along with certain ideas until things come to fruition,” Carrie said.

Lars grew up sailing large boats on the Chesapeake Bay with his father. Carrie sailed and raced small boats with her family in Wisconsin, New Jersey and upstate New York. They both relocated to Beaufort, N.C., where they met.

Carrie was working in Beaufort as a bread baker and Lars was working in marine canvas when the two decided to relocate to Wilmington to raise their children.

“I was working in canvas shops, mostly on power boats, and we were losing sight of our dream to be sailors,” said Lars.

The two opened Bergstrom Sails in April 2011. The sailing loft recently partnered with Northsails, one of the leaders in the sail-making industry.

The partnership with Northsails has given the Bergstroms access to many of the materials they need to start building the five skiffs for the sailing school. With only the five hulls, the Bergstroms are building the masts, sails and rudders for each boat before they are water-ready.

“In sailboat racing, five makes up a fleet, so it worked out perfectly,” said Lars. “We have just enough for our own fleet.”

They have just started the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. The main goal of the school is to provide sailing lessons for little or no cost.

“We’re hoping for completely free,” said Carrie.

Once the sailing school becomes an official nonprofit organization, Bergstrom Sails will start soliciting donations of money, materials and volunteered time.

“There are already sailing programs with these same boats here in Wilmington and Southport and Beaufort,” said Lars. “But we want to provide sailing for families and children who can’t afford to pay for those summer camps.”

The Bergstroms are planning to have the five skiffs ready for the water this spring. They can be reached at 910-512-2970.

Community News: 343-2364

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