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A group of dedicated sailors wanted to share their passion for the sport of sailing with the local area youth.  The Traverse area is a natural and unique water environment ideal for sailing.  Yet, at the time, there were no organized public programs in the immediate area to teach sailing to our youngsters.  Sailing is a life-long activity and sport where self-reliance and independence go hand-in-hand with team work and the spirit of fair play.  Traverse Area Community Sailing, as a non profit organization, became a reality.

Hull Park, an area next to the sewage plant, was in the early stages of development as a city park and had no facilities; TACS brought in a Port-o-Potty and towed in an old bus for use as office and equipment storage place.

That summer thirty-four 12-16 yr old boys and girls participated in a two-week hands-on sailing school with borrowed boats and an entirely volunteer staff.



Volunteers built 20 Optimist Pram Dinghies financed by local businesses sponsored by the Traverse City Optimist Club; this opened enrollment to include 8-12 year old youngsters and allowed TACS to present a full summer schedule of five two-week camp sessions.




The on-going development of Hull Park by the City included a pavilion, board walk and dockage; TACS was permitted by the City to occupy office space in the pavilion and use the docks during sailing camp season.


Camp enrollment increased from 34 to 250 students per summer with a paid staff of 5 certified instructors. The program expanded to 8 sessions of half day 2 wk programs. Donations of boats expanded our fleet to 20 Sunfish, 6 Interlakes, 6 JY15’s and 5 safety boats.


TACS Racing Team was formed. Beginning students now have a progressive program to grow into. US Sailing (The national sailing organization) awarded TACS the US Sailing Award for the 'Best Seasonal Community Sailing Program for Year.


2000 and Beyond

Today TACS employs five instructors, a Camp Director and Racing Coach, all US Sailing certified. Students have a wide range of options for sailing based on their skill level from beginner to expert; from day-sailor to avid racer; from small boat to keel boat; from training for youngsters to training for adults.


TACS fleet includes 28 Optimist Prams, 13 Sunfish, 8 - Interlakes, 8 - JY 15's, 8 lasers and 5 Safety Boats. Seven members from the TACS Racing Team entered the Junior, Senior and Ladies Interlake National Sailing Championships.


TACS programs were expanded to include a special week for the Boys & Girls Club, a TCAPS summer school option, an adult learn-to-sail program in the evenings and a special Adaptive Sports Day; a full week long program designed for children enrolled at the community Boys and Girls Club; a fall week-long program was developed for the TCAPS Alternative Education Program


Grant funds have provided tuition scholarships for disadvantaged youngsters who otherwise would not be able to attend the camp program; these funds are distributed through the local school districts


In 2004 Ben Ferris, our Camp Director, received the award for the Best Director of a Seasonal Community Sailing Program from US Sailing, the national sailing organization


The Traverse City Parks and Recreation Commission encourages and has endorsed the use of Hull Park at the north end of Boardman Lake. This provided an ideal environment in which to learn to sail: a central location; warm water; docks; launch ramp; and, fenced storage area for boats. The Cornwell Sailing Center which will house the TACS fleet and better serve the community was completed in November of 2008.



Historical Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan
Historical Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan

USSailing awards Bob Cornwell and Mike Wills the Outstanding Leadership Award for 2008.


Please join us in congratulating Bob & Mike for their award recognizing their dedication to and leadership for Traverse Area Community Sailing!! Many people have contributed to the progress illustrated in the pictures to the left, but none more so than Mike and Bob. The following is the text of the award from USSailing's Community Sailing Council:


"In March of 1993, Mike Wills, at the time a marina operator and boat dealer, organized a Sailing Summit to discuss the evident decline in local sailing, which gave birth to Traverse Area Community Sailing. Mike has been Treasurer of TACS since inception and was instrumental in securing permission from the City to operate on city park land on a small inland lake within the City limits and Mike donated a converted bus-to-motor-home as the program’s initial base of operations. In 1997, Mike requested and received permission from the City Commission to erect a permanent building on the site. Conceptual plans were drawn and TACS began raising money for the project. Bob Cornwell, a local architect and board member, volunteered his time and talents to complete the working drawings. Together, Bob and Mike managed the construction process and the Gordon and Jean Cornwell Sailing Center was completed in October of 2008, with the building named for the support provided by Bob’s parents. Since 1994, TACS has provided sailing instruction and activities for over 4,000 area youth and adults in various programs. The building now houses the TACS fleet of more than 70 boats and will facilitate the development and expansion of programs to a wider audience, including those with disabilities."



Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan

Bob Cornwell

Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan

Mike Wills

USSailing awards Ian McGurn the Excellence in Instruction Award for 2007.


Traverse Area Community Sailing is proud to have had another award winning instructor on our staff. The United States Sailing Association annually awards outstanding personalities and programs that serve the sailing community in the United States. For 2007 they have awarded our Lead Instructor, Ian McGurn, the “Excellence in Instruction Award”.


Ian has not only been a member of our staff, but is a product of the TACS program, having attended some of our first camps. A veteran staff member, he has been our Lead Instructor at TACS for several years and has become a main stay of the program in every way possible. Ian exemplifies the creative mindset for developing activities and curriculum that inspire and educate oursailors. Most importantly to our younger and first time sailors, Ian made all of our sailors feel safe and welcome at the camps. He drew out and grew confidence even in the most timid of our sailors.


Ian authored the first ever TACS Instructor Manual which will provide our future staff members with continued high quality instruction techniques. Ian continuously set the standards of leadership and fair play that has become the hallmark of TACS. Please join us in congratulating Ian and wishing himwell in his future endeavors.


In the past, USSailing has honored TACS with awards for the “Outstanding Seasonal Program” for the year 2000 and by naming our Camp Director, Ben Ferris, the “Outstanding Director of a Seasonal Program” for the year 2002. 



Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan
Sailing traverse city, sailing northern michigan

Ian McGurn

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