We’re giving away sailing lessons with OCSC Sailing in Berkeley, California this month, so it seemed like a good time to grab a few minutes with OCSC’s founder, Anthony Sandberg.
Anthony founded the Olympic Circle Sailing Club (OCSC) in 1979 with a borrowed J-24 sailboat and built it into a nautical powerhouse. Today OCSC has more than 50 boats, 80 instructors and has taught more than 25,000 people how to sail. Really learn to sail, that is, since OCSC’s home sailing grounds are San Francisco Bay, where the winds often clock 25 knots. The company has been singled out multiple times over the years as one of the best places to work in North America, most recently in 2013 by Outside magazine.
I met Anthony last fall at the Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) in Namibia, one of the driest places in the world. That may be why the two of us had such an animated discussion about sailing. I touched base with him this week while our giveaway contest is underway.
What is it about sailing that gets people excited?
As JFK said, “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”
There is romance and wonder being carried by the wind anywhere you wish to go. To guide an invisible force to your will gives you a sense of control and confidence. It is magic and ancient.
How did you get into sailing?
I grew up in Hawaii two blocks from Waikiki Beach. I actually have no memory of learning to swim or sail or surf. Being a water baby was just the way we grew up. Even today at 65, I become a child again when I step aboard a boat and raise the sails. My life’s passion has been to share the joy I experience. I want to teach the world to sail.
Have you done long voyages or are you happy on the waters of San Francisco Bay?
I left home at 16 (we were living in California then) and sailed back to Hawaii and around the Pacific. I have sailed virtually everywhere in the world on both modern and traditional vessels. Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Central & South America, Asia and India and Africa….even Antarctica. No excuse for my behavior. I love travel and adventure. And yet for the pure pleasure of just sailing with predictable good winds there is no place better than San Francisco Bay.
How about the team-building aspects of sailing – can it actually help someone become a team player in a world where that seems to be increasingly necessary?
Major corporations like Google, Apple, Genentech, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, etc. regularly send teams to us. Everyone is in the same boat and the actions of each make a direct difference in performance. Teamwork and communication may be hard to notice when everyone is in cubicles – but on a boat it is all out there to be seen. Are you pulling your weight or just being a spectator?
I know that OCSC helps people prepare for bareboat experiences – how difficult is it to handle one of these boats in a place like the Caribbean and how do your prepare would-be sailors?
The major goal of our clients is to do exactly that – skipper their own rented boat in the Caribbean. Later they discover that everywhere in the world worth sailing for fun has similar yachts for charter.
Typically one would take three weeks of sailing instruction interspersed with days of practice over the course of a year. At that point they have all the skills and confidence to charter a larger yacht anywhere.
Where is your next voyage?
We just had 80 participants on 12 yachts who just sailed the coast of Thailand for two weeks in February. I’m leading a group of similar size on the coast of Croatia this September for two weeks.
Be sure to enter our giveaway contest for sailing lessons with OCSC Sailing in San Francisco Bay!