Captain Kid

In 2008 Bill Bahen founded Hudson River Community Sailing, New York City’s first nonprofit community sailing center. This year Bahen and his crew put nearly 5,000 New Yorkers on the water.

“The idea of creating access to the waterways in urban centers is not unique,” says the easygoing Baltimore native, citing Boston’s 80-year-old Community Boating, Inc. as one example among many in America’s major port cities. “But I think that Manhattan failed to engage young people on the water using sailing as a medium.”

The reasons for this range from a historic lack of recreational infrastructure along the river to the long-held belief that the city’s waterways were little more than commercial cesspools. Improved water quality and the subsequent reinvention of the Hudson River waterfront as a public green space have since widened New Yorkers’ perceptions of the river as a valuable resource and set the stage for organizations like HRCS to redefine it’s significance in people’s lives.

“NYC is probably one of the best port towns in the world,” says Bahen. “The idea that these young people don’t know that they’re on an island and they don’t understand that there’s the East River and the Hudson River and the Harlem River and those make up the hard borders of Manhattan, that’s just amazing to me.”

By creating access to sailing Bahen hopes to change the perception of sailing as a sport reserved for affluent New Yorkers and to use it as a means of creating opportunities for the city’s young people.

“If they learn how to sail here and we get them a job at some summer camp or some other community sailing program or some yacht club someplace, those could be game-changers.”

My story about HRCS ran in the May 2011 issue of Sailing Magazine.

New York City Triathlon, 2010

More than 3,000 athletes from around the world plunged into the Hudson early Sunday morning to compete in the 10th Annual Nautica New York City Triathlon. The race consists of a 1-mile swim between 99th and 81st Streets, a 25-mile bike loop along the Henry Hudson Parkway, and a 5-mile run through Central Park. The swim is widely considered to be the easy part of the race owing to the Hudson’s strong southward current.

While the 31-mile course may seem like the province of superhumans to those of us at the couch-potato-to-5K end of the fitness spectrum, the event has become so popular among aspiring triathlete champions that event organizers will adopt a NY Marathon-style lottery for those looking to compete in next year’s race.

This year’s top winners – Czech Olympian Filip Ospaly who finished in 1:46:28, and second-time pro women’s champ Rebeccah Wassner of NYC who ran home in 2:00:25 – both scored $8,000 cash prizes. Wassner’s twin sister Laurel, the world’s only pro triathlete cancer survivor, took second place in 2:02:16. I daresay a handful of determined contenders is still running.

Parks On Fire (California Burning Mix) used courtesy of Dj Rkod/cc Mixter