September 2009 article in Pink Magazine and More Magazine online. Click Here >>
American Sailing Association Journal. Click Here >>
See the April 2007 issue of Latitudes and Attitudes for a 5 page article on Custom Sailing, Ltd. in the Greek Islands!
Published in “The Hall Citizen” July 2005 By Evelyn Asher Gainsville, GA.
Excerpts from: Come Sail Away With Me
Valerie Weingrad boosted my sailing confidence and planted seeds of custom sailing adventure the moment I met her at Dock X at Holiday Marina in Buford. While she and my friend visiting from Miami, unfolded sails for our rental cruiser they exchanged accounts on their favorite waters… hers, the Aegean; his, the Caribbean Sea where he keeps his 20 year old 37′ Tayana.
My two prior sailing experiences included lessons on dry land in 1965 and a day trip on a catamaran off St. Maarten 20 years hence with seasickness. With little wind, 15 minutes our on Lake Lanier for my friend’s 68th birthday celebration, I doubted silently, “Where is the thrill of sailing?”
Four hours later, I was keeping the cruiser on course with threatening skies. Then with dramatic tacking sans motor, and patience and agility of my partner, we maneuvered into the slip just in time. Valerie and my friend secured the sails before the biggest storm sealed our adventure. Speaking with Weingrad since that voyage in early June, I learned this active sailor led a private charter to the Caribbean. A former executive in the telecom industry, Weingrad, winsome as the tallest sails, formed Custom Sailing, Ltd. three years ago with her partner, George Kypriotis whom she met at a telecom trade show in 1998. The two sailing enthusiasts started talking about starting a sailing company that truly customizes trips and give clients a taste of the “local” experience.
“We had both been providing charter trips and teaching sailing in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean respectively and decided to put our knowledge together and Custom Sailing, Ltd. was born, ” Weingrad said…
“One of the things that sets Custom Sailing apart from some of the other companies out there,” Weingrad observes, “is that we truly have the local knowledge of the places we sail. We know the islands, the restaurant owners, the cab drivers, bartenders, etc. As one guest told us on his Greek Islands holiday, ‘I feel like I am traveling with friends and treated like family when we go to the islands and not just a tourist getting off the boat.'”
Where is the most beautiful setting you have witnessed? What sets is apart from others? Weingrad contemplated, “This is a tough question, there are so many. “The first thing that comes to mind is my first visit to the Greek Islands. There is so much culture and history there, the ancient and the modern sitting side by side. We set sail late afternoon from Athens and arrived at our first anchorage after dark. We were at Sounion, the tip of the mainland before you really enter the Aegean Sea and the Cyclades Islands. I knew the Temple of Poseidon from 446 B.C. stood on the cliffs above us, but could not see it. The next morning I woke up at day break, when I stood up and looked our of my hatch in my cabin I was greeted by a view of the Temple of Poseidon on my left with the sunrise behind it and the full moon setting on my right, the sky was filled with the most beautiful colors, this was my welcome to the Greek Islands.”
“Another high point that stands out is seeing the Southern Cross constellation for the first time, anchored off a small islands in the Grenadines, you have to be close to the equator and the southern hemisphere to see that one. Others are magnificent sunrises and sunsets while 350 miles off shore at sea and your surrounded by water and sea life, it is a very humbling experience.” Weingrad recalled.
Custom Sailing’s clientele come from all walks of life. The majority of their guests come from the United States, but they have clients from Spain, Australia, England, Greece and even India. “We have business owners, doctors, corporate executives, financial officers, police officers, writers, students, families with children and we have even had the pleasure of a well known retired opera singer on board. It was a special treat when he serenaded us with an Italian aria on a sunset sail leaving Athens to the islands of Aegina last summer, ” Weingrad said.
“How would you like to go to Greece on a custom sail with dynamic woman at the helm in September?” I asked my friend Nancy as we pulled our double kayak off the Chestatee River last Saturday. After a moment’s thought, Nancy replied, “Sure. Let’s!” There is no stopping these two grandmas on the river (watch for a book title by the same name).
“It’s really rewarding when they ‘get it’ the bug or ‘zazuney’ as we call it in Greece, for sailing,” Weingrad declares with her ebullient smile.