One of the largest sailing schools in the Midwest is in the middle of a $4 million campaign to build a new headquarters on Lake Minnetonka.
The Wayzata Community Sailing Center has operated for years out of a 126-year-old house on Wayzata Bay. But the building is neither adequate nor accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s an old building that needs a refresh,” said Rob Hunt, president of the sailing center’s board. “It’s the next step in our growth.”
So far, $2 million has been raised for Minnesota’s only accredited sailing center, which hosts youth sailing lessons, camps, outreach programs and adaptive sailing for people of all ages. The money will cover the costs of demolishing the old house and replacing it with a 4,000-square-foot building.
The fundraising campaign will continue Friday, when the 10th annual Wine on Wayzata Bay event will seek to raise $43,000 for the new center. It will be named after Mike Plant, the internationally renowned Lake Minnetonka sailor and adventurer.
Plant, who grew up in Deephaven, was the fastest American sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo. He died at sea in 1992 at the age of 41 when his boat capsized on the Atlantic Ocean.
His mother, Mary Plant, 93, lives in Wayzata and has long supported the sailing center on the lake her son once sailed.
“It means a lot to me and to anyone in the family,” she said of the future center. “It will be something else. It needs a new building.”
If crews break ground in October, the Plant Sailing Center will open next spring. It will be ADA accessible and have classrooms, a lounge, garage and a commercial kitchen to prepare food for some 20 events a year. It also will allow staffers to plan year-round programs for the first time.
“We’re a community access place to the lake; we want everyone to have that access,” said Matthew Thompson, executive director of the sailing center. “We’ve made a home out of what we have. But we have to have a new home to fully extend ourselves.”
Decades ago, Thompson was one of the kids who attended the sailing center’s programs not long after it was started by parents of neighboring Wayzata Yacht Club to teach their kids how to sail.
Now it’s grown from hosting classes out of two sheds to a program with three full-time staff members and about a dozen seasonal staffers, serving 800 kids a year.
Sailing “teaches leadership, it teaches teamwork and it teaches responsibility,” said Hunt. His 16-year-old son tried sports like football, soccer and baseball before “he got down to the lake and found that sailing community, and that resonated with him.”
“We’ve accomplished amazing things,” Hunt added. “We’re excited to keep moving forward.”