I love Lake Michigan!!! Without it, Chicago wouldn’t be what it is today. It’s been the biggest driver of Chicago’s growth over the last 200 years or so by drawing early settlers to the area, giving industries the resources they needed to thrive and now providing prospective and current residents the pristine lakefront views and recreation activities that make this a first-class city. While the functionality of Lake Michigan is still a huge part of Chicago’s history, the aesthetic beauty is something I keep trying to capture with my camera.
I’ve shared many photos of the lake in this blog. I’d shoot it every day if I could since its appearance can change daily. But the one thing that has remained constant in all of my Lake Michigan photos is my point of view. I’ve always been shooting from shore, or at best, out on a pier. This always leaves me wishing that I could flip my perspective and gets some shots from the lake looking to shore. The one problem with that is my lack of access to a boat….until last weekend.
On Sunday I had the privilege of meeting up with a new friend of mine who is a member of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation (JGASF). If you haven’t heard of this awesome foundation, as I hadn’t, here is some information and a little history of this fantastic group.
Justin “Judd” Goldman was seventeen years old when he suffered a disabling bone disease. After realizing that there were few sports that he could participate in, he discovered sailing. During the next fifty-eight years he competed successfully in many races throughout the world, including over twenty-five Chicago-Mackinac Races, a 333-mile challenge from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan. In 1989, at the age of seventy-five, Judd passed away at a Naples, Florida boatyard. In 1990, Judd’s wife, Sliv, son Peter and daughter Judy established the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation (JGASF) as a public/private partnership with the Chicago Park District. In 1992 the JGASF, in partnership with Chicago Yacht Club, founded the North American Challenge Cup (NACC) for sailors with disabilities. The NACC continues to be a major disabled sailing event today. The NACC and the JGASF are proud to have been chosen by US Sailing for twelve years as the host to the national sailing championship for disabled sailors, the Independence Cup (renamed the US Disabled Sailing Championship). During the twelve years the combined event was known as the Independence Cup/North American Challenge Cup. In 2001, the Foundation embarked on a pilot program with the Chicago Park District designed to teach sailing to Chicago inner-city youth. Offering an unequaled environment and an extremely rare experience for a big city recreational program, this unique approach brings the program to the neighborhood rather than the neighborhood to the program. The goal for this inner-city youth program is identical to our current mission…helping people to achieve self-esteem and independence.
The Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program (JGASP) includes classroom and on-water instruction for the physically disabled. JGASP is a public/private partnership with the Chicago Park District whereby the Foundation raises funds for instructor salaries, boats and maintenance costs while the Park District operates the Program on a day-to-day basis. The fleet consists of eight Freedom 20’s, eight Sonars and four 2.4 meter sailboats. The Freedom 20’s were built specifically for disabled sailors and have many safety features that make this boat the premier boat of choice for a disabled sailing program. The Sonar and the 2.4 meter boats are for more advanced racing sailors and are used in world disabled championships, such as the Paralympics. All boats are very stable and will not capsize. The mission of the program- helping people to achieve self-esteem and independence.
So as a member of this foundation, my friend and his crew were kind enough to let me tag along as they sailed their collection of boats from Burnham Harbor to Belmont Harbor. And of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring along my camera to get some long-awaited shots of the city. As much as I was impressed by the amazing views, I was even more floored by the great people I met that day. I can’t remember the last time I met people as kind, fun, inclusive and supportive as the members, staff, friends and family of the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program. They’re truly a great group of people. And a special thanks to Gary, Kerry and Captain Tim for making it a really fun trip!
So, that’s enough rambling from me. Here are a few of my favorite shots that I took during my first ride on a sailboat, and more importantly, my first “photo cruise” on Lake Michigan.