SOUTHWEST HARBOR — “Don’t ever become a cheesy sailor,” joked Fran Charles, Northeast Harbor Fleet manager and sailing master at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. He was speaking to a crowd of nearly 30 at a free “chalk talk” last weekend at the Mount Desert Island Community Sailing Center (MDICSC). Mr. Charles described scenarios sailors could encounter during a race, and the most effective ways of navigating them.
“It’s much more fun to sail by the rules,” he said.
Mr. Charles gave this primer while on a short break from sailing season responsibilities at MIT.
“Franny’s an awesome source,” said Parker Brown, a participant in the class and a sailor for Mount Desert Island High School. He was glad he had the opportunity to attend. “He really knows what he’s talking about.”
Mr. Charles absolutely does know what he’s talking about. His career on the water includes a three-year stint on the U.S. 470 Olympic sailing team. With the team, he won U.S. and North American titles, went to the Pan American Games and won a silver medal as well as finishing fourth, sixth and eighth in the World Championships.
Mr. Charles, who grew up racing sailboats in Boston, is dedicated to the accessibility of sailing to all people.
“Here at the MDICSC and at the Northeast Harbor Fleet, there are very few barriers for people who want to get started sailing,” he said. “We provide life jackets, you don’t need to own a boat, and you can be virtually any age to start becoming comfortable on the water.”