48° North contributor, Andrew Nelson, is stepping away from his role as the Youth Sailing Director for The Sailing Foundation. Andrew has given the sailing community — youth and all of us — so much in his tenure.

Andrew Nelson stepped into a new role back in 2014, shortly after I took over the Editor’s chair here at the 48° North. We have been friends and contemporaries; and over the years, we have collaborated on numerous projects and Andrew has been a frequent contributor to the magazine. Andrew’s job is critical because it has been a rising-tide for youth programs around the Pacific Northwest. His informed leadership provided a steady hand on the helm through some rough waters, and his efforts have paid dividends — youth sailing participation has increased over each previous year since 2014 (Covid years aside), and high school sailing in the Pacific Northwest has seen significantly more growth in the last 10 years than all regions around the country except one.

Importantly, Andrew hasn’t only sought to grow conventional sailing pathways, and he has worked to elevate programs that offer various approaches to get kids involved and keep them engaged. Through his writing, he has also helped me and 48° North readers not only stay aware of what’s happening in youth sailing, but also to help put it into broader context. I just republished one of my favorite of Andrew’s articles that ran in 48° North early 2016 — it focuses on the fun and value of getting the whole family involved with sailing — something Andrew was lucky enough to experience as a kid, and now exemplifies as a parent.

Looking back, it’s clear how much I’ve personally appreciated Andrew and his commitment throughout these eight years, and my admiration hasn’t wavered. In a year-in-review editorial a number of years ago, I named Andrew and his work: Most Essential Service to the Sailing Community. In that shout out, I wrote: “I’ve found [Andrew] to be tireless, intelligent, generous with his time and the resources of The Sailing Foundation, and a thoughtful and committed steward to youth sailing programs of every stripe. There are many influences in the lives of young people; but when you meet young sailors today, or adult sailors in the future, many of them will have started sailing or kept sailing thanks, in part, to Andrew’s good work.” I couldn’t have said it any better today.

With new chapters come new possibilities, and I’m excited to see what the next Youth Sailing Director can bring in energy, expertise, and experience. But for now, I’d want to join the chorus celebrating Andrew’s work and the good it has done for sailing and sailors in the Pacific Northwest. Thank you, Andrew.

Here’s a note from Andrew:

After almost exactly eight years, I’m stepping down as The Sailing Foundation’s youth sailing director. It’s been a great ride and I’m eternally grateful for everyone’s support along the way. It’s been a real privilege to meet so many great people in this role, from young sailors to parents and volunteers. The Sailing Foundation itself was always unwavering in its commitment to my role and youth sailing. Our board of directors put their trust in me to make this job into what I thought it should be, and I’m proud of the progress youth sailing has made in our area during my tenure.

However, as my two girls continue to grow up, it has been increasingly difficult to do this job to my standards. Birthday parties, soccer games, and swim lessons always seem to happen during regattas and practice times. Starting tomorrow, I will be embarking on my next career as a middle school teacher in Tacoma. Teaching is what I trained to do, and it’s always been a goal to eventually return to the classroom.

Despite the growth of youth sailing here in recent years, there’s still a lot of work to do. I plan to stay involved with The Sailing Foundation as a volunteer as we chart the next course of action. I’ll continue to monitor my (former) Sailing Foundation email address, but with less frequency moving forward. There’s still a good chance you’ll see me at WIND Clinic, or teaching instructor certification classes, or running the occasional regatta. In the meantime, sail fast!

Andrew Nelson