WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — March begins the official start of the sailing season for Captain Dustin Frye.
Frye, owner and Captain of Wrightsville Performance Sailing, launched his 26-foot J80 racing sailboat, named “Claire” on Friday afternoon, for the start of the 2017 sailing season.
The launch took place at Bennett Brothers Yachts in Wilmington. From there, he took a trip down the Cape Fear River, and back up the coast to his main stay at Seapath Yacht Club, 330 Causeway Drive, in Wrightsville Beach.
“It’s a long journey,” Frye said. “About 5 to 6 hours with current and wind, much of it under motor power due to unfavorable wind directions or excessive current.”
But it’s a trip he must make for the business, which is now in his fourth season.
“I’ve had saltwater in my blood, my entire life.”
The year 2017 marks continued grown for Wrightsville Performance Sailing, Frye said. He is excited to announce that he has picked up an affiliation with US Sailing this year. Wrightsville Performance Sailing is now offering a Basic Keelboat Certification, which is a three-day course. The certifications will be offered in addition to its regular offerings of standard cruises, charters and private lessons.
“It’s really cool. We’ve got a lot of customers that ask about sailing certifications. So, we’re super excited this year to finally be able to offer that,” Frye said.
Frye is now ready to get back on the water after the off-season, which he said is extremely short for the Cape Fear area. In the off-season, Frye works on planning and preparing for the new sailing season ahead, as well as boat maintenance and business development.
When asked how it feels to get back into the season again, Frye said, “It’s great. Anytime the boat is out of the water, it’s always like a little piece is missing. So, it’s good to have the boat back in the water, and ready to take some people out and have a little fun.”
Running his own sailing business with just himself and one intern from UNC-Wilmington has had its “learning curve” over the years, Frye said.
“I actually studied environmental science in college and so business was not something I was educated on, formally,” Frye said. “So, I’ve learned a lot about marketing. That’s a huge part of the business, particularly being primarily seasonal.”
Wrightsville Performance Sailing was established in 2014, but for Frye, a career in the profession came naturally.
“During my youth, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the sport from my grandfather, who had a cruising sailboat that we sailed around the east coast and Bahamas,” Frye said. “I’ve had saltwater in my blood, my entire life.”
Frye spent summers in Wilmington while growing up and he moved to the area while in high school. He graduated from Topsail High School in 2007 and graduated from UNCW in 2011. Over the years, he’s had various positions in the maritime industry, reaching as far as the Caribbean, but decided to stay in the area to start Wrightsville Performance Sailing.
“I’ve picked up a lot of local business, which is tremendous,” Frye said. “I love getting people that live here out on the water to really explore their town in a way that they never have before. And everyone just loves it.”
Typically, Frye hosts 2 to 3 hour sessions on his 26-foot sailboat. The sailboat leaves from Seapath Yacht Club, and out into Banks Channel, where Frye will raise his sails. From there, Frye takes his group down out towards the inlet and off-shore in the Atlantic Ocean, or into the Intracoastal Waterway for the beautiful sights of the marsh areas near Wrightsville Beach.
The 26-foot sail boat can hold four to five people at a time, including children, with all the safety gear. Through the business Frye continues his mission to grow the sport of sailing in the local community.
“We just want to continue to grow the sport. That was one of the missions when I founded the business was to really bring people to the water in a way that a lot of people haven’t experienced,” Frye said. “It’s a reality I get to regularly experience; taking many first-time sailors out for a sail at Wrightsville Beach. So to continue learning that sport, and getting people out on a sailboat, it’s one of the focuses as we move forward.”
Particularly in this region, Frye said a lot of people will get on a boat and turn the key, taking off to whatever destination they may have on the water. But sailing, is bit different from Frye’s perspective. Sailing gets people out on the water in an “elemental way” for a different coastal experience.
Frye said sailing can be an activity for all to enjoy, including families, small business groups, and tourists.
“We’re a fun option to do something a little out of the ordinary,” Frye said. “It’s just the wind and it’s quiet– but really powerful — and actually really fun at the same time. It’s cool.”
To take a trip with Captain Dustin Frye or for more information about charters, lessons or certification, visit the Wrightsville Performance Sailing website or give him a call at 910-622-2503.
Meet Captain Dustin Frye and watch a video of his sailboat launch: