A Word from the Executive Director

 Tall Ships America’s 39th Annual Conference on Sail Training and Tall Ships was a great success, and our sincere thanks go out to all who participated.  Whether as a presenter, an attendee, a speaker, or a sponsor, your involvement raised the bar for “best-ever”.    

Our theme was “Crew Development, Awakening the Next Watch”, and much of the conference was designed to benefit the working crew who are sail training’s current “front line” and future leaders.  Thanks to generous financial support from Maritime Simulation Institute (MSI), we offered a special Crew Grant enabling crew to attend the conference at a greatly reduced cost.  The ideas and the energy contributed by this cadre of up-and-comers was a big part of the conference’s overall success, and we will continue this proactive outreach for future conferences. 

Special thanks are due to US Merchant Marine Academy and the crew of MV LIBERATOR, for bringing that vessel to Newport and providing training ops for attendees, and to MSI for providing a site tour of their simulator facilities.

 Conference sessions cover a lot of informational territory in a compressed time, but our panelists and presenters were extremely well prepared and efficient. They engaged the session attendees as participants in their discussions, and a great amount of information was shared through a well-managed schedule. 

The Safety Forum and Education Forum were especially worthwhile, and accordingly well attended.  Both Forums take the better part of a day to explore interconnected issues in depth and detail, allowing for open, extended and thoughtful discussion between attendees, panelists, and moderators.   

The Annual Awards Banquet was both affirming and moving, as very special and very worthy Sail Trainers were recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions, and received the accolade of their peers. After the Awards came a great party – a welcome celebration of all the hard work and dedication that sail trainers pour into their ships and programs and trainees. Thanks to Allen Agency (our long-time shipmate and endorsed insurance provider) for sponsoring the fete. 

 Personally, I will always value our conferences as that one special time during the year when we convene as a community, catch up with old shipmates, learn what’s going on in other parts of the sail training world, and share ideas and innovations.  Sail training in America has come a long way since it first organized as a self-aware movement.  Given how sailors move from ship to ship, ships move to new programs, and programs evolve, our progress needs to be understood as a collective achievement.  The Annual Conference, then, is a necessary feature of this evolution. 

 Thanks for being part of it this year.  The planning for 40th Annual Conference on Sail Training and Tall Ships is already underway – see you there!

Fair Winds,
Bert Rogers
Executive Director

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