Sean Palizza, who has a lifetime of sailboat racing, coaching and management experience, has been named sailing coach at Culver Academies and waterfront director for Culver Summer Schools and Camps.
Palizza is from Lake Bluff, Illinois, where he started sailing Thistles with his father at a young age. He fell in love with sailing at a summer camp in New Hampshire. From there he spent the next few summers sailing big boats in the Caribbean.
Palizza started a sailing team at DePaul University in Chicago so he could spend more time on the water. After college, he became a charter boat captain in Croatia, then came back stateside to work for J/World Performance Sailing School in San Francisco Bay. While working for J/World, he sailed in several offshore races, including the 2016 Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii, where he was watch captain aboard Hula Girl when it won Division and set a class record of seven days, 20 hours and 3 minutes.
Since then, Palizza has been the assistant sailing director at Southern Yacht Club and most recently sailing director at Norwalk Yacht Club in Connecticut.
Now at Culver, Palizza said he is most looking forward to being a part of the great community as well as helping the next generation of sailors discover what sailing means to them. There are currently no major changes planned for the summer, but Palizza said a part of the long-term plan is to update and improve their fleet as well as their curriculum while still adhering to the great traditions here at Culver.
“I am happy and honored to join the rich naval tradition at Culver,” Palizza said. “I have raced and coached everything from Optis to offshore, I have logged miles on small lakes, big bays and the open ocean. I have personally taught hundreds of people how to sail and it still brings me joy. I am excited to continue the history of excellence and the Corinthian Spirit here at Culver.”
He said sailing has given him life lessons that have made him the person he is today.
“Self-reliance, teamwork and a drive for the horizon are just a few of the things that sailing has done for me. It is my wish to continue to give back to the sport and pursuit of sailing by helping our sailors learn, lead, and discover,” he said.