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National Sailing Hall of Fame Announces The Sailing Museum

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Description automatically generatedThe National Sailing Hall of Fame announced today that its new home will be named The Sailing Museum, offering an innovative multi-media experience dedicated to celebrating sailing’s heritage, showcasing its heroes and inspiring generations of sailors to come.


Situated in the historic Armory building on the waterfront in downtown Newport, The Sailing Museum will feature more than 11,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, displays chronicling the history of the sport, and galleries honoring inductees into the National Sailing Hall of Fame and the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The Sailing Museum experience has been developed by Healy Kohler Design, a recognized leader in interactive museum and sports hall of fame design. The museum is scheduled to open in Spring 2022.


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Description automatically generated “Our new home will be a feast for the senses, harnessing technology to bring the excitement of sailing to life and honoring our sport’s heroes in exciting and innovative ways,” said Gus Carlson, president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame. “Our goal is to create a special place that engages everyone, from our sport’s faithful to casual sailors to newcomers who are curious about what happens when wind and water meet. We are confident The Sailing Museum will be a unique venue to showcase our sport and the accomplishments of its heroes.”


The heart of The Sailing Museum will be galleries for the National Sailing Hall of Fame and the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, honoring the achievements and commitment to excellence of those men and women who have contributed to the sport of sailing at the highest levels. Like Hall of Famers from across the sports world, these sailing stars undergo a rigorous and competitive nomination and selection process to earn this honor.


“I am lucky indeed to be a member of both the National Sailing Hall of Fame and the America’s Cup Hall of Fame,” said Tom Whidden, CEO, North Technology Group. “What an honor it will be to sit alongside so many accomplished people, who have achieved so much in our sport, presented in this incredible new facility in Newport. For anyone, of any age, who loves to sail, The Sailing Museum will be a must visit.”


In addition to the Halls of Fame, The Sailing Museum will feature a mix of high- and low-tech interactive exhibits with built-in “stealth learning” components that share the principles of sailing and provide seasoned sailors with opportunities to test their skills and knowledge. The museum will include the only on-site Virtual Regatta experience in the country and connect visitors with an interest in trying sailing to providers locally and around the country. A corresponding educational program will be offered for visiting groups with school-aged children.


“Our goal is to create an educational experience for school-aged children that is complementary to what is currently being taught on the dock or in the classroom,” said Heather Ruhsam, executive director of The Sailing Museum. “The Sailing Museum will be able to offer a hands-on and high-tech platform to illustrate some of the more challenging concepts, or those that are weather dependent. REACH is implemented at 400+ sailing centers and events across the US, and as the nation’s sailing museum it makes sense to align our educational programming with that of US Sailing.”


“We are thrilled with the innovative approach the National Sailing Hall of Fame has taken in creating the vision for The Sailing Museum,” said Jack Gierhart, CEO of US Sailing. “The National Sailing Hall of Fame plays an invaluable role in recognizing leaders in the sport who have shaped sailing through the years, and now they are providing an opportunity for people to not only experience this history first hand, but also to connect with sailing personally and get involved. We are excited to support this initiative and play a part in introducing more people to sailing.”


Experience a sneak peek of The Sailing Museum through the rendered virtual tour.

The Sailing Museum – Sailing Starts Here.

The Sailing Museum Experience

A collaborative design effort led by award-winning Healy Kohler Design, The Sailing Museum will offer sailing enthusiasts the chance to revel in their sport and new sailors to be enticed to take to the water for the first time. A personalized journey (via RFID - radio frequency identification) through six thematic areas begins with the selection of a boat. For sailors, they can select from one of seven on a screen; while those experiencing sailing for the first time will be given the option of a short quiz that will help them select a boat. For all, this boat will become their avatar throughout their museum experience, guiding them through the interactive elements, several of which will be specific to their selected boat.


The main hall of the museum is divided into six thematic areas:

·        Wind & Water

·        The Making of a Champion: Mental

·        The Making of a Champion: Physical

·        Teamwork

·        Competition

·        Legends of Sailing – National Sailing Hall of Fame & America’s Cup Hall of Fame


The experience begins with Wind & Water, elements that sailors and non-sailors alike are familiar with. Here, visitors will learn about points of sail, ocean stewardship, the anatomy of a boat and evolution and principles of design, even designing their own boats. In the Making of a Champion areas, the mental and physical aspects of the sport will be explored, including navigation, tactics, leadership and decision-making, as well as agility, speed, strength and endurance. In the Teamwork area visitors will discover how sailing is a unique balance of all, and brings people of varying skill sets together. In Competition, visitors will see what happens at the top of the sport when all these components are executed at the highest level. Iconic events from across the country and around the world will be showcased, along with the individuals who made their mark in them.


Throughout the museum, the stories and accomplishments of the people who have shaped the sport will be shared. In the Legends of Sailing area, home to members of the National Sailing Hall of Fame and America’s Cup Hall of Fame, over 175 sailing legends will be honored under one roof, connecting the past to the future. From designers and builders to coaches and mentors, artists, historians, Olympians, sailmakers and explorers – The Sailing Museum will offer visitors a window into the most exciting personalities in sailing. Through them, new audiences will discover what sailors already know – there is a magic that happens when wind and water meet. It has been the inspiration for innovation across the ages as humans have harnessed them to explore, trade, recreate and compete.


The Sailing Museum will introduce tens of thousands of new people to sailing annually, raising awareness of the sport by celebrating the people who have shaped it and providing pathways and opportunities to get involved. Visitors new to sailing will be encouraged to try it by visiting First Sail location Sail Newport across the harbor or discovering through the museum where sailing is offered near them, wherever they may hail from.


Interactive educational exhibits will provide real-world applications of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) that come alive through sailing. These five disciplines are used in everyday activities, promoting problem solving, and creative and analytical thinking in a more open-ended way and make them applicable to real life. In addition to curriculum developed by the National Sailing Hall of Fame over the last 10+ years, exhibits and educational curriculum at The Sailing Museum will be guided by US Sailing’s REACH Program modules taught in sailing centers nationwide.


The Sailing Museum will also feature the only on-site Virtual Regatta eSailing experience in the United States. Conversations with World Sailing and Virtual Regatta started in 2019 as the eSailing craze in Europe began to make its way across the pond. From grassroots to World Championship competition, Virtual Regatta creates community as has been seen during COVID-19 lockdowns when sailors have taken to their tablets and phones to get their sailing fix. In addition to being a thrilling way to compete from the museum on a course set on Narragansett Bay, the Virtual Regatta Sailing School is a fun and exciting avenue to introduce people to the principles of sailing and share its excitement.



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