There has been a longstanding connection between the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Piers Park Sailing
Center (PPSC) in East Boston. In fact, the PPSC Board Chairman Mike Bruno is not only a former PPSC sailor but also a graduate of Mass. Maritime.
Recently the collaboration between the two educational institutions for boating grew a bit stronger with a generous donation of six racing dinghies to the PPSC that will be used by the East Boston High School sailing team.
“Massachusetts Maritime Academy sail training, a key part of orientation for all students at the Academy, starts with freshman learning to sail on 420 one-design racing dinghies,” explained PPSC Executive Director Alex DeFronzo. “This summer, six of those dinghies were shipped up to East Boston for a new kind of sailing orientation.”
DeFronzo said over the summer Mass. Maritime decided to update its fleet of sailboats and in the process made practice for the EBHS sailing team a lot more exciting.
“When MMA made the decision to purchase new dinghies they reached out to Mike Bruno, a Mass. Maritime alum and ‘Double Buc’ who received degrees in 2007 for Marine Engine and in 2014 in Facilities Management, and donated six mint condition 420 racing dinghies for the EBHS varsity team.”
Since 1998, PPSC has taught 14,000 kids how to sail on Boston Harbor, and last year added the EBHS sailing team to its many programs for youth. The team was practicing in an old set of Flying Junior boats donated by BU. The new upgrade to MMA’s donated 420s give EBHS the ability to practice on the same boats they use in varsity away-meets up and down the North and South Shore.
“The EBHS sailing team is one of the only public schools in Boston to offer sailing as a team sport,” said DeFronzo. “None of the students that joined the team had ever sailed before, so we have been able to use the fleet of dinghies donated by MMA to train the sailing team and have them compete with other schools all along the coast.”
Bruno, the MMA and PPSC alum who connected the two organizations, added “The donation by MMA has allowed us to recruit a new generation of young sailors and really have a major impact on their life by introducing them to the marine environment and instilling in them skills that they will use throughout their lives. We see this as just the beginning of a strong partnership with MMA that will connect individuals of all backgrounds to the maritime industry.”
Many East Boston Youth that grew up in PPSC’s programs went on to study at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and to pursue careers in the maritime industry including Mike Bruno, David Rodriguez, and Santiago Enrique – all graduates of PPSC’s programs and former PPSC instructors. PPSC and MMA are proud to work together to help broaden this pathway for students at East Boston High School to pursue sailing as a sport and potentially follow a career in maritime.