The City Magazine Since 1975

Ship Shape

Ship Shape
September 2009
Charleston Community Sailing’s director keeps the program afloat

Jessica Koenig is making waves in the boating community with free sailing lessons for people from all walks of life, from kids who’ve never set foot on a boat to senior adventure-seekers. “Many associate sailing with an elite group; we’re trying to change that mind-set,” says the Charleston Community Sailing executive director, who grew up on the Chesapeake Bay. “We’re here to provide instruction and access to anyone who’s interested in getting on the water.”

The former captain of Washington College’s nationally ranked varsity sailing team followed her passion for the sport here in 2001, overseeing the Charleston Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program before bringing her boundless enthusiasm to CCS two years ago. “This is a community of individuals that come together because they love the water,” she says. “I want to share that with as many people as possible.”

Today, the 30-year-old skipper runs a tight ship, with duties that include everything from grant-writing and fundraising to keeping an eye on the weather and overseeing all aspects of the facility, a floating dock at the City Marina with 13 Vanguard 420s and three motorboats. The nonprofit hosts nine high school teams, Special Olympics sailors, and adult classes. But working with Buddy Sail, a joint program between CCS and the Boys and Girls Club of Charleston, holds a special place in Koenig’s heart. “Sailing has really shaped me into who I am. It helped me to develop self-esteem,” she explains, “and I hope to help these kids find their own confidence through being on the water.”