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For more than 50 years, members of the Northeast Harbor Fleet have encouraged and supported a summer program that teaches youngsters to sail. Students from the sailing program have achieved success at all levels of sailing both within the area and internationally. Thanks to the generosity of those who value the qualities of self reliance, responsibility, teamwork and sportsmanship that sailing can provide, the education continues at the Northeast Harbor Sailing School.

The Northeast Harbor Sailing School is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to educating members of the MDI community in sailing and boating safety. Over 200 students, ages 6 – 18, participate in the summer program each year. Scholarships are available to those with a financial need and a special program for year-round residents offers weekly sailing lessons at no charge.

To continue this excellent education, the Northeast Harbor Sailing School relies on contributions from Fleet members, parents, grandparents, and friends. Weekly tuition for sailing classes covers many of our expenses, but not all. In addition to the cooperation and generous support of the Northeast Harbor Fleet, the Sailing School relies heavily on the support of the summer community we serve to maintain operations, provide high quality staff and balance the School's budget.

For more information on supporting the Northeast Harbor Sailing School, please contact Melissa Walls at 207-276-5101. Your tax deductible contributions are sincerely appreciated.

Northeast Harbor Sailing School
P.O. Box 12
Northeast Harbor, ME 04662

We are bringing together Mount Desert Island's youth 420 sailors!

The 420 Great Harbor Dream

Bar Harbor Yacht Club/MDI YMCA (BHYC)
Little Cranberry Yacht Club (LCYC)
MDI Community Sailing Center (MDICSC)
Northeast Harbor Sailing School (NEHSS)
Seal Harbor Yacht Club (SHYC)


The concept of combining the efforts of the various organizations to better reach out to all the junior sailors of the Great Harbor is a new approach to an old problem. For years, area sailing clubs and organizations have taught youngsters the fundamentals of sailing and the rewards that come with it. Through effective instruction, the programs have instilled independence and self-confidence, teamwork and responsibility. However, the abundance of distractions for teens these days causes rampant attrition as youth get older, and a new approach to retaining these kids needs to be established. The future of all of these sailing clubs firmly rests with our ability to teach, excite, and retain youth sailors

Enter the Great Harbor "420 Turbo" (420) Fleet

Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where youth sailors in the Great Harbor come together, learn together, and sail as a group. This project is the first step, and a bold statement, towards a new idea providing the momentum to invigorate and promote joint sailing instruction and racing in the Great Harbor. Our combined efforts will ensure that we offer exciting and fun opportunities for our youth to enjoy sailing and experience sailboat racing. Getting to know other teens who share a similar interest will create a vibrant and contagious social environment. Let's face it, many youth will want to do this because their friends are doing it.


It is essential to get all of the teens, regardless of their skill levels, to congregate together as a group, and to have more social interaction and fun together. Additionally, a new generation of boats needs to replace our aging, capital intensive, slow, and unresponsive fleet in order to successfully engage our youth longer term. To this end, the five organizations have committed to acquire twenty-one newly designed 420's (affectionately called "420 Turbos") at a cost of $9,000 per boat to be used by all of the clubs.The plan is to store the 420's on floats off of the western side of Greenings Island, near the 2012 location of MDICSC's 420 floats. Hinckley Yachts has offered the use of several moorings on the western side of Greenings in order to secure the 420 floats.

More about the Great Harbor "420’s Turbo"

We are excited about purchasing a hybrid 420 class sailboat which should give a huge jolt of enthusiasm to our teen sailors. In other parts of the east coast, a heavy duty "Club 420" sailboat is used almost universally. Despite the traditionally accepted use of this boat, each region has experienced dramatically declining enrollment numbers as sailors get into their mid-teens. One of the underlying issues is that the Club 420 boat is quite heavy and extremely unresponsive in a variety of sailing and wind conditions. With new technology, it is possible to build a far more exciting 420 sailboat, while maintaining its stability and safety.


Fran Charles, sailing director of the NEHSS and Sailing Master at MIT and Glenn Squires the Director of the MDICSC have spearheaded the plan to replace the fleets of 420s at each of our clubs.


Fran has taken responsibility for the design of the new boats which has been a labor of love, a ton of work, and a task uniquely suited to Franny's passion for youth sailing, his talents as a competitive racer, and his technical boat building knowledge and experience. Over the past few months, Franny has engaged with Rondar Raceboats in Peabody, MA, which has a reputation for making consistent and durable boats.


Rondar has introduced a boat which will be lighter and way more exciting to sail than any boat seen on these waters. Cored hulls with resin infusion processing allow for a far more durable construction at a fraction of the weight. Masts and booms will be half the weight of currently used spars by selecting a better quality alloy along with a thinner wall thickness. The stability of the boats actually improves dramatically by minimizing weight aloft, and this will make sailing a 420 Turbo blazing fast and highly addictive. Although the boats will accelerate rapidly, they will be much more stable with the lighter spars, even in freshening breezes. If breezes become overpowering, the mainsail is designed to be easily reefed. Sitting on shore on windy days will be a thing of the past, as our youth will have a smaller sail plan and will be able to comfortably enjoy the spirited conditions of gusty days. New safety features include floatation in the mainsail to prevent turtling, and the new push-down Gnav vang systems that reduce entanglement danger for crew.


Glenn Squires has taken responsibility for operation, including the development of the dock and storage facilities system, administration, and the delivery of the 420 Turbo the second week of April.  The 420 Turbo will be used by the MDI High School Sailing Team.  Glenn has a vision of expanding the high school sailing team events by hosting state or regional regatta’s during the sailing season. 

How You Can Help

The five organizations have joined together to raise $350,000 to fund the Great Harbor Dream Project. In addition to covering the costs of the 420 Turbo fleet, funding is required to construct a sail storage facility on the dock system, improve the float systems, purchase an additional support boats and to fund a capital reserves.


NEHSS and MDICSC are contributing their existing 420 floats and support boats to the cause. SHYC has contributed their floating docks.  The members of the BHYC initiated a capital campaign and have made a major contribution to the project to date.  LCYC has initiated a capital campaign to fund three 420’s.


Through your generous support please help us make the Great Harbor Dream come true by making a tax deductible contribution to either the MDI Community Sailing Center or the NEH Sailing School.


Some full boat sponsorships are still available at $9,000 and include individual donor boat naming rights on the transom. Any contribution large or small would be appreciated. Please contact Melissa Walls at the Northeast Harbor Sailing School with any questions: 207-276-5101 or nehfleet@gmail.com.


All contributions are fully tax deductible and can be made to:


NEHSS “420 Fund”

P.O. Box 12

Northeast Harbor, ME 04662



© 2005 Northeast Harbor Sailing School