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Philadelphia Maritime Academy Maritime School Program

Mary Anne Byrne  | Published on 9/21/2013

The sailing program for the Philadelphia Maritime Academy Charter School ( ) started on Wednesday, September 19.  Students from the middle school will be coming to the yacht club for nine sailing lessons.  Each lesson is 3.5 hours long including changing from the school uniforms to sailing clothes following by a healthy snack of fresh fruit and granola bars.  This semester the school decided to introduce more students to sailing and therefore all the students have never sailed.  The Precision 15 will be used for all instruction and there will be an instructor aboard all the boats at all times.   Four Precisions will used for instruction during this after school program.  All four instructors selected for the program are familiar with the Cooper River Yacht Club as either members or former students.  One purpose of this email is to introduce the Fall 2013 Maritime Sailing staff.  Jim Greenfield assists on the powerboat for both the sailors and paddlers, a position requiring excellent sailing rescue skills and local knowledge of the Cooper River Yacht Club.   

Gerald van Wilgen
Gerald learned to sail on the lakes, rivers and off the shores of the Netherlands where he worked as a journalist. He moved to the US in 1996. After a stint in land-locked Nebraska, where he obtained a Masters in Theatre at the University of Nebraska Omaha, he returned to Jersey where he heeded to the call of the water. He took the American Sailing Association (ASA) instructor courses in Annapolis. Not long after he joined the team at Cooper River Yacht Club, where he still teaches. Gerald will be receiving his USCG OUPV Captain's License later this year. When he is not water bound he is a stay at home dad (hockey taxi), freelance writer, playwright, theatre producer and soccer coach. In his remaining free time he attempts to learn to play the violin.  

Colin Wolfe

Colin is an experienced secondary teacher in the city of Camden.  Colin learned to sail at Community Boating Inc, Charles River in Boston.  As a community sailing member, he progressed from Learn to Sail classes to being both an instructor and racing skipper. He has recently been a math teacher and also involved in theater productions at the Creative Arts School in Camden.  He is a former member of Cooper River Yacht Club and owns a larger sailboat and keeps this boat at a marina on the Barnegat Bay.

Nicolaus Pro

Nicolaus is an experienced sailor who has been on boats his entire life. He started sailing Optimist when he lived in Florida at the age of 5, and continued sailing them at Cooper River YC until he was 11. After this, he went to Riverton Yacht Club where he was a counselor in training for several years, and he started racing Laser’s and Optimist. The regattas that he is most proud of are finishing 17th at CORK international in 2010, and sailing in the J22 worlds. He has his US Sailing Level 1 certification, and loves his summer jobs.  For the summers of 2011 to 2012, he taught youth how to sail at Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May. This past year (2013) he worked at Ocean City Yacht Club again teaching youth.  He has been actively racing all types of boats through out these years, and when he is not sailing enjoys riding bicycles and working on his car. 

Robert Peronne

Robert began sailing at Cooper River in 1974 racing the Moth he bought with money he saved from his paper route.  Riding his bike from Cherry Hill he regularly participated in Sunday races at Cooper River in the Moth and Laser classes.  After studying Chemical Engineering and Experimental Psychology Robert returned ro competitive sailing.  He regularly competes in Regional and National Level Regattas in the Chesapeake Bay and New Jersey coastal waters in the Laser and Comet classes.  Because of his interest in the sport of Sailboat racing he became US Sailing Level 1 certified instructor in 2012.  Robert currently works as a successful,  full time Real Estste Broker at Maxwell Realty in Philadelphia.