Hingham Maritime Center’s Harbor Feast to Support Boating for All

HMC Coastal Quad class out early morning on Hingham Harbor (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

July 24, 2023 By Holly Moriarty

From sunrise to sunset all summer long, rowers, sailors, and paddleboarders are enjoying the harbor in classes offered through the Hingham Maritime Center (HMC). HMC has nurtured a community of learning on the water that keeps kids and adults coming back year after year. On Saturday, September 9, HMC will host its annual Harbor Feast to fundraise and support its mission of “Boating for All.”

The Hingham High School Sailing team and Hingham High School Rowing Association are co-hosting the event at Barnes Wharf, and all proceeds will benefit the three nonprofit organizations. Tickets are available here.

Harbor Feast culminates another summer at HMC with an evening on Hingham Harbor, serving up drinks, hors d’oeuvres, Smokey Stax BBQ dinner, and s’mores at the firepits, along with music by the Back 9.

Aerial view of Hingham Maritime Center’s Harbor Feast 2022 (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

One of the first community boating organizations in Massachusetts, Hingham Maritime Center was founded more than 50 years ago and is dedicated to providing affordable access to sailing, rowing, paddleboarding (new this year), and maritime education on the harbor. HMC additionally serves as a homebase for the Hingham High School Crew and Sailing teams.

From six-year-olds in Little Mariners classes up to adults and seniors rowing in 8+ boats, a thriving community has formed around HMC. One rower who returns summer after summer is Kristin Feeley. When HMC started the rowing program in 2002, Kristin was among the first to sign up. She grew up sailing, but had never tried rowing.

“HMC offers great access to the water and a great experience,” said Kristin. “Rowing’s a unique activity too. Until HMC started the program, I didn’t realize there was an opportunity to get into rowing—I’d just associated it with colleges and national teams, but it’s for anyone of all ages and abilities.”

Youth Beginner Sailing class getting ready to sail out at HMC (photo courtesy of Holly Moriarty)

Kristin rows in 8+, 4+, and quad boats in the adult rowing program. With friends from HMC, she twice raced in the Head of the Charles, in addition to other regattas, including Head of the Fish and the Textile River Regatta, where they medaled.

“I’ve been rowing at HMC for over 20 years now. I always row in the early morning. It’s a peaceful time to do something for yourself before starting the day,” said Kristin.

The staff at Hingham Maritime Center personify the impact the nonprofit has had on the community. Most of the sailing and rowing instructors learned the sports at HMC. Many are also current athletes or alumni of the HHS Crew and Sailing teams.

Ivan Frantz, head of sailing at HMC, started sailing there when he was seven (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

Head of HMC’s sailing program, Ivan Frantz took his first sailing class at HMC when he was seven years old and has returned almost every summer since.

“First it was my parents. I got signed up every summer, so I came back every summer,” he said. “At some point I got into racing, I made my friends here. I remember how exciting it was to start coming in the morning and volunteering. You spend so much time with the people here they become family.”

Sydney Blasetti began her rowing career at HMC in a sweeps class for incoming freshmen. She was hooked and went on to row for the HHS Crew team and then Boston University (D1). She is now head coach of the girls HHS Crew team and also teaches third grade at South Elementary School.

Head girls coach of the HHS Crew team, Sydney Blasetti, learned to row at HMC and teaches there this summer (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

“Because of HMC, I fell in love with the water—and I can take advantage of this beautiful place we live in. We are beyond lucky to be on the water in our own town,” she said. As for teaching, “HMC is very welcoming. I like watching the process of when the kids show up and they’re uneasy at first. At the end of class, they run to their parents with a giant smile on their face, ready to tell them what happened on the water that day.”

Sydney also gets a kick out of seeing parents of HHS Crew athletes now learning to row themselves at HMC. While she initially taught youth and adult classes, she now mainly coaches the High School Development (HSD) class.

“The HSD class is a lot of fun for me personally because I taught many of the kids how to row in middle school and watched them grow. I’ve known them for quite some time. To see them volunteering and teaching now, they’re where I was when they were in middle school. It’s our own little village and community here.”

HMC’s High School Development class out on the water at 6 a.m. (photo courtesy of Sarah Dewey)

Most of the current HMC sailing instructors learned from Ivan and also Stephanie Robinson, who has spent 10 summers volunteering and teaching at HMC and competed on the HHS Sailing team. Like Sydney, she appreciates watching the kids learn, especially seeing them develop independence and confidence in themselves as they gain control over the boat.

“I love the sense of community here, many people grew up sailing here. There’s a joke that we’re like a family, a mafia family—once you get in, you never get out,” she laughed.

Maisie Knies starts her day at HMC at 6 a.m. in the High School Development class, prepping for the fall season on the HHS Crew team. After putting away her boat, she transitions right into teaching the youth beginning sailing class, followed by intermediate sailing. In the afternoons, she’s back with more beginners, and often stays on to volunteer in the late afternoon Learn to Row class.

Stephanie Robinson teaching sailing for her tenth summer at HMC (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

Maisie began sailing at HMC when she was eight years old, added in rowing in middle school, and eventually started volunteering and teaching. She likes taking and teaching classes at HMC. She’s focused on improving her technical skills and speed in the HSD class and especially enjoys Fridays, when the coaches mix in water fights, aquatic obstacle courses, and races around the islands.

“I love it here,” Maisie said. “I get to hopefully find the kids that will go through the programs just like I did. It’s an awesome environment. Everyone’s friends here, the children and the staff are having fun.”

Ivan worked with two of his closest friends over several summers at HMC. Their final summer together at Hingham Maritime was his favorite.

HHS rower Maisie Knies teaches both sailing and rowing at HMC (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

“On the last day, after all the boats had been put away and we were finished with everything, we sat on the dock together looking out at the water. None of us would admit that we were sitting there not willing to leave because it would be our last time leaving. Everyone else had been gone for at least an hour. On our way out, we went into the boathouse and carved our names into a table. The people who taught us how to sail, who we looked up to and then became, all their names were carved into the table, and we wanted to do the same. That meant so much to us.”

Ivan added, “I always like seeing someone new fall in love with HMC too—anytime somebody asks when they can start volunteering, when it’s 5:30 and their parents are waiting in the parking lot, and they’re still flipping boats and working because they want to stay. HMC still is and will always be a place that people fall in love with, like me and the people before me. It might look a little different, but it’s still the same place.”

HMC’s 420 Race class out on Hingham Harbor (photo courtesy of Jack Burns)

To learn more about Harbor Feast sponsorship opportunities, please contact Liza MacKinnon at lmackinnon@hinghammaritime.org.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.