St. Augustine Yacht Club breaks ground for youth sailing center


The St. Augustine Yacht Club (SAYC) celebrated the groundbreaking of the Stanley and Catherine Paris Youth Sailing Center on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Located on Salt Run adjacent to the club, the center will be completed in 2024. It is being made possible through the donation of the property by Drs. Stanley and Catherine Paris to the City of St. Augustine. The property was deeded to the city and then leased to the club for 99 years.

David Patrick, SAYC commodore, welcomed the Parises and Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline and gave special thanks to the City of St. Augustine Commissioners for helping with the project.

“Over the past 10 years, we have taught almost 2,000 youngsters, ages 8-15, how to sail,” Patrick said. “The first year we had 54 sail campers, but this year almost 300 attended. With this center we can assure the program can continue and with increased safety.”

“The facility that will be constructed here, along with the dock, will enhance the experience of youth sailing, providing young campers with a life skill and personal achievement that will lay a groundwork for being able to take on challenges throughout their life,” Stanley Paris said. “They may vacate sailing, but the skills learned will not vacate them.”

Paris acknowledged Roy Jaeger for his help in getting the program underway and being instrumental in encouraging the donation of the property. He also thanked Jim Gajewski for acting as SAYC spokesperson with the city and former Mayor Tracy Upchurch and City Manager John Regan for their help.

“This new sailing center will allow the children, their coaches, and their families to participate in programs in a safe environment, with their own facilities, classrooms and docks,” Sikes-Kline said. “It will be safely away from the public ramp, the power boats coming and going, the kayakers launching from the beach and the fishing pier.”

The mayor also remarked on SAYC’s other contributions to the city, including its organizing of the annual Blessing of the Fleet and the Regatta of Lights during the holiday Nights of Lights.

Other officials attending were city commissioners Jim Springfield and Cynthia Garris; City Manager John Regan; Assistant City Manager David Birchim; Communications Director Melissa Wissel; and Port, Waterway and Beach Commissioner Linda Thomson. Other SAYC members taking part in the ceremony were Kathleen Floryan, Barbara Dolan and Justin Muller.

The ceremony concluded with the actual groundbreaking and presentations, including a framed proclamation to the city from SAYC, the oldest yacht club in Florida.