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Janel Zarkowsky, Meredith Dart, Chris Childers named Siebel Coaches for new program

by US Sailing 11 Oct 11:19 PDT
US Sailing names Siebel Coaches for new program © US Sailing

US Sailing has announced the names of three Siebel Coaches who have been hired to lead their respective regions and provide mentorship and instruction to participating sailors of the new Siebel Sailors Program.

The goal of this ground-breaking program is to increase diversity and opportunity in the sport of sailing by providing resources and support to youth sailors at public access sailing centers across the country.

The Siebel Coaches will instill a strong affinity for sailing in these young sailors, build advanced skills and mentor them at local, regional and national regattas. These coaches will also be a driving force in advising young sailors on how to take advantage of opportunities for experiences outside of competition, including learning other sailing disciplines, exploring careers in the marine industry, and serving in leadership roles at sailing organizations. As US Sailing staff members, another key goal for these Siebel Coaches will be to assist youth sailing organizations in their regions to implement best practices and grow sailing participation, including providing advanced training for instructors, coaches, and sailors throughout the region.

In September, US Sailing announced the first three Primary Siebel Centers - Treasure Island Sailing Center (San Francisco, Calif.), DC Sail (Washington, D.C.), and Columbia Sailing School (Chicago, Ill.), as well as the Supporting Centers in their regions. These designated centers at locations throughout the country will support an important US Sailing objective of providing increased access to sailing for youth, regardless of socioeconomic background, and will receive a fleet of sail boats, other necessary equipment, and expert coaching.

"The Siebel Sailors Program is incredibly lucky to have Chris, Janel and Meredith joining our full-time staff," said Blair Overman, Siebel Sailors Program Manager. "They each bring over ten years of experience in different segments of the industry, which allows them to think critically about how we need to build out this national program and make it sustainable. They're actively coaching on the water, recruiting new youth to the sport, immersing themselves in their communities, building out a new culture and curriculum, and inspiring their regions to come together to collectively problem solve retention. They are individually crafting customized solutions to meet sailing centers and students right where they are. They speak up about regional needs and provide US Sailing with new context for how to best support sailing organizations that function uniquely across the country."

Meet the Siebel Coaches

Janel Zarkowsky (Annapolis, Md.)
Siebel Sailors Coach for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Janel Zarkowsky grew up sailing on Chesapeake Bay competing in both single and doublehanded sailboats starting at age seven. Zarkowsky was a four-year member of the Boston University sailing team, competing as their women's skipper and crew for the coed, team race and keelboat teams. The Terriers advanced to the ICSA Women's National Championships all four years of her tenure at BU.

After graduating in 2009, Zarkowsky continued coaching for the Terriers as their assistant coach. Zarkowsky has been coaching at the college level for almost a decade in multiple disciplines of racing: singlehanded, doublehanded, fleet racing, team racing, and match racing. She is currently an assistant coach for the Georgetown University varsity sailing team.

Zarkowsky is the current Vice President of the Vanguard 15 fleet and has fleet and team raced at both the national and international levels for the past six years in Vanguard 15s and Fireflies. She has also match raced multiple grade 1 and 2 events as bowman, in addition to multiple training sessions with Team Tunnicliffe, Team Seven, David Dellenbaugh and Dave Perry. She has judged and umpired at the college sailing level, and recently began umpiring grade 3 and 4 match races in the New England area.

Zarkowsky directed the sailing component of Plebe Summer Basic Training at the US Naval Academy. In six years, this Basic Sail Training program has educated over 12,000 plebes in seamanship and mentored over 270 Ensigns to be sailing instructors.

"I can't imagine a better way to spend my day: on the water, being with friends, buzzing around in a boat," said Zarkowsky. "I hope I can spread my joy of sailing to everyone in this program."

Meredith Dart (North Chatham, Mass.)
Siebel Sailors Coach for the Chicago Region

Meredith Dart grew up sailing in Chatham, Mass. at Chatham Yacht Club. She learned to sail in wooden Beetle Cats, a popular boat on Cape Cod (Mass.). Dart's favorite memories sailing were racing 420s all over the Cape and the Islands with her brother and best friends. Dart has over 17 years of youth coaching experience at various levels of sailing. She created and launched racing and recreational sailing program curriculum and evaluation tools for both sailors and instructors at two different programs.

Prior to joining US Sailing, Dart worked in the field of Special Education over the past eight years, specifically children with emotional and behavioral disabilities, including Autism, as well as students with a variety of learning disabilities. She has a passion for helping kids become better versions of themselves both in the classroom and through the outlet of sport, specifically sailing.

As an active racer, she sailed competitively all four years in college at Salve Regina University as a crew. She helped Salve Regina crack the Top 20 in the national rankings for Coed. Dart continues to love racing any chance she can get whether its in a local yacht club series or bigger regattas.

"Sailing is a sport in which you can learn more out on the water than just sailing," said Dart. "You can learn skills like independence, multi-tasking, decision making, working with a team, and so much more. The Siebel Sailors Program will provide opportunities for kids to not only learn to sail but to also help prepare and inspire them to achieve their full potential as lifelong learners, sailors and productive members of their communities."

Chris Childers (San Francisco, Calif.)
Siebel Sailors Coach for the San Francisco Bay Region

Chris Childers started sailing at age eight in a Sunfish on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. Launching from a dock in the backyard was a ticket to a lifetime of exploration of the sport and all it has to offer.

He began teaching at age 16 at the Friends of Belmar Harbor, a community sailing center in New Jersey where he would go on to become program director. He launched a science and sailing summer camp for the community as well as increased opportunities for students from nearby urban centers with little access to the water through their City Sailors program.

As part of his many accomplishments, Childers helped develop robust science and sailing opportunities at community sailing centers on the west coast, too. He was instrumental in getting the Set Sail Learn program of the Treasure Island Sailing Center off the ground, which has now seen more than 6,000 San Francisco fourth and fifth graders on the waters of San Francisco Bay.

Chris Childers now boasts over 17 years of experience at community sailing centers around the country including New Jersey, Vermont, Florida, and California and has demonstrated commitment to the representation of diversity in the sport.

Childers is a talented and accomplished sailor himself. He placed second in the Sonar at the 2014 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship (skipper) and fourth place at the 2015 Blind Sailing World Championship (sighted guide). He races regularly on San Francisco Bay as part of the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors as well as with able-bodied crews.

"The sport and pastime of sailing can be infinitely enhanced by more people, more diversity and more ways of thinking about the challenges we face on the race course, in the middle of the ocean, or cruising with friends," said Childers. "Sailing is for everyone, but we need everyone for sailing."

Interested Centers and Coaches - Apply now to be a part of the Siebel Sailors Program

US Sailing is accepting applications from eligible sailing organizations to become official centers for the Siebel Sailors Program. The second round of applications are due by Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Apply today! Eligibility criteria, center guidelines, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at

US Sailing is looking to hire dynamic individuals to be Siebel Coaches. Interested coaches should apply online via the US Sailing careers website.

For more questions about the Siebel Sailors Program, email US Sailing at .

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