When US Sailing gave Jacob Raymond its Martin A. Luray Award, community sailing’s highest honor, it described him as a “natural leader” and a passionate professional dedicated to providing educational and recreational opportunities to people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.
Now, Raymond brings that leadership and passion to New Orleans.
Community Sailing New Orleans has hired Raymond as the center’s executive director. He comes to CSNOI with more than 10 years of experience working at nationally respected community sailing centers, including Sail Nauticus in Norfolk, Va., and the College of Charleston’s community programs in Charleston, S.C. He has created and directed adult and youth programs, developed programs for people with physical and intellectual challenges, worked with U.S. Sailing’s national STEM-based sailing curriculum (the Reach Program), and collaborated with the College of Charleston’s Math and Science Department in formulating a STEM-based sailing curriculum specifically for its needs.
A military veteran who served in Iraq with the Army National Guard and assisted in the relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Raymond has a unique background that perfectly fits with the goals and mission of Community Sailing New Orleans. He has worked hard throughout his career to remove the physical and financial barriers that can impede participation in the sport that he loves.
“With Jacob leading the organization, local children and adults with a range of backgrounds and abilities will have the chance to learn, grow and develop a love of the water and a deep respect for Lake Pontchartrain,” said John Manard, president of Community Sailing New Orleans’ Board of Directors.
“I am honored to join Community Sailing New Orleans. I believe it has the right vision, right goals and right values and is poised to have a huge impact on the community,” Raymond said.
After a decade of planning and development, Phase I of CSNOI opened in the fall of 2018 with facilities for collegiate and high school sailors. It serves as home base for the Tulane University Varsity Sailing Team.
Jacob now joins the center at an exciting time, as the facility prepares to open youth programs for underserved children in the Greater New Orleans area, adaptive sailing opportunities for adults and youth with a range of physical and intellectual abilities, and adult sailing lessons. CSNOI has a fleet of boats designed to safely serve a wide variety of sailors.
As a veteran, Raymond personally has experienced the healing and therapeutic benefits of being on the water. While serving as a military police officer, he deployed in east Baghdad and survived a roadside bomb. “I was very fortunate to walk away uninjured and to come back with 10 fingers and 10 toes,” he said. When returning from deployment, he felt a disconnect from society but eventually found himself at home when he discovered sailing and the people in the community.
He discovered sailing through a job opportunity. Without ever stepping foot on a sailboat before, he applied for a dock assistant position at the College of Charleston and enrolled in a sailing class. It changed the course of his life.
Today, Raymond is a sailing coach for the Special Olympics and is active in the national Warrior Sailing Program, which “provides maritime education and outreach for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.”
He met his future wife, Sarah Wolcott, at a Special Olympics regatta. Raymond and Wolcott, a school teacher and an active sailor, are engaged to be married in June and both are excited about the move to New Orleans, he said.
“Everyone has been so welcoming and kind to me,” he said. “We can’t wait to join the New Orleans community.”
Raymond will begin work at Community Sailing New Orleans in March.