Sail training for young people has gained acceptance in recent years as a viable alternative to land-based classrooms for teaching academics and life skills. One such program, America True, the first woman-led attempt to challenge the America’s Cup (2000), has found that the sailing ship is an ideal medium for helping teenage girls avoid certain pitfalls of life ashore. The program is further geared to assist girls in gaining the necessary confidence to achieve in academics and the economic communities they return to when a course is completed.
The program’s curriculum has been developed with an eye toward combating a tendency of girls to step back from life, according to America True spokesman Gary Schwarzman. The organization quotes social science research that shows young girls risk losing confidence and a sense of achievement through this act of withdrawal, and even risk losing their identity. Through the medium of traditional sailing ships (not the ultra-lightweight sailing rockets used by the America’s Cup challenge) girls of all backgrounds are given a fresh chance, Schwarzman said.