MattSail program honors legacy, looks to the future

Apr 29, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — As supporters gather for the Mattapoisett sailing program’s Launch Party on June 15, they will celebrate a program that has grown and evolved since starting on a two week pilot program for 16 students.

The program’s President, Steve Mach and Vice President, John Cornish recall that a years old sailing program inspired them and others to start a new program in 2007.

“When we were all kids they had a sailing program, but they didn’t have one at the time,” Cornish said.

The program also got its full name, the William E. Mee Sailing Program, in memory of a passionate Mattapoisett sailor who loved teaching children how to sail but was tragically killed in a car crash in 2006.

The Mee program also has a scholarship in honor of Karl Collyer, another notable community sailor who passed away in 2010.

The program has expanded in multiple directions over the years.

The children’s sailing program has three two-week sessions in the summer, and almost 100 participants.

Sailors can choose to participate in the morning or afternoon session, with less-experienced sailors often sailing in the morning. The program also collaborates with Mattapoisett Recreation to allow kids to join Recreation programs in the afternoon if they need full day care.

In researching instructors for the youth sailing program Mach and Cornish learned that youth instructors were often high school students.

Though Old Rochester Regional had a sailing club at the time, it did not have a sailing team.

So in 2015, MattSail appeared before the School Committee to request permission to start a team. They were granted permission and started the program. 

Though athletics fees cover some of the expense and the sailing program is to some degree financially independent, MattSail is still covering the maintenance of the boats, the administrative side of the team and the insurance.

Over twelve years, the president and vice president estimate that the program has had 20 kids move from student to instructor.

Organizers have also changed the program’s biggest annual fundraiser around several times.

They started off with a launch party in late spring, for a few years hosted a gala at the end of the season, and eventually switched to a launch party at the beginning of the season.

The program is most-known for its kids’ sailing sessions, but also offers adult lessons.

Despite all the changes, the sailing program is still dedicated to recognizing the supporters that have made the most difference for the program.

At this year’s launch party it will honor Mattapoisett Boatyard, which Mach says has donated a “tremendous amount of time and resources to the program.” 

Cornish agreed, adding that the boatyard owners and employees “have been supporting us from day one.”

MattSail’s launch party will be from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Reservation golf club. The party will have dinner, a DJ, a silent and live auction, featuring a19 foot sailboat that was once used in the program.

Tickets will be $60. For the link to purchase tickets, see this article on