Land ho! Seaworthy Brewers finally ready to set sail

The sailing club is ready to set sail again after a short period of inactivity. 70 students passed the swimming test and nearly twice as many are on the list as they look to get their feet wet. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics
The sailing club is ready to set sail again after a short period of inactivity. 70 students passed the swimming test and nearly twice as many are on the list as they look to get their feet wet. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics
The sailing club is ready to set sail again after a short period of inactivity. 70 students passed
the swimming test and nearly twice as many are on the list as they look to get their feet wet. Photo courtesy of Vassar Athletics

After being disbanded last spring, the Vas­sar Sailing Club is back in full force. Al­though in the past, the club has struggled with numbers and funding, this year’s team boasts a large recruitment class itching to get out on the water. Students reinstated the club this past semester as an effort to offer more opportuni­ties in lesser-known sports. President junior Alex Lange, Treasurer senior John Tapscott, Secretary freshman John Terwilliger, as well as Vice Presidents freshmen Sophie Kaplan, Joe Niver and Haley Kardek represent the execu­tive board that administer the club. The exec board members’ efforts have steadily picked up steam throughout the year, with several mem­bers coming on board after the activities fair at the beginning of the fall semester.

Since the club’s reinstatement, the members of the exec board have worked out many of the logistical and administrative aspects of restart­ing the sailing organization. “We have set up meetings with key administrators and our facul­ty adviser, Bob Brigham, to set the right number of items in order. After only a week of advertis­ing, by putting our sail up all over campus, we had 70 people come to the AFC to take a swim test and showed a grand amount of interest in the team,” said Terwilliger. Nearly twice that initial amount have shown interest in the club, making it the largest pre-organization on Vas­sar’s campus.

Behind all of these efforts is President Lange, who has been at the helm since the beginning of the year. Lange and Tapscott have been working with their fellow exec board members and other students to build the club from the ground up. “Our President has been a great informational resource and advocate to get us back on the water as well as becoming an actual org again,” added Terwilliger.

Restarting the Sailing Club has presented more logistical obstacles than just meeting with administrators and getting people together for swim tests. The team offers Learn-to-Sail clinics on both land and water. Although all amounts of experience are welcome, swimming proficien­cy is required. New recruits must also attend a practice to learn the basics of sailing before entering the water. The existing members have taught the more unexperienced students to help them get acclimated to the team and the unfa­miliar environment. The process proved to test the older members, who had to remember the basics of sailing, as well.

The club has consistently faced difficultly in getting people to the boathouse so they can ac­tually get on the water. “[W]e started from an org with no money, no members and no idea where Vassar’s boats actually were, to hav[ing] just finished our fourth general body practice, our third on the water, fixing up all the boats so that they are all seaworthy,” said Lange. The VSA disbanded the organization after the spring semester last academic year. The Sailing Team couldn’t even secure facilities because of a de­finitive lull in sailing activities up until now. “We started off going to a boathouse that hadn’t been touched since before Hurricane Sandy. It reminded me of an Egyptian tomb. However, through a great deal of hard work by our small group, we’ve made the boat house and our fleet usable again,” said Niver.

It had been so long since the sailing team took water that Kardek had to take inventory on essentials and repair boats herself. With the boats water-ready, the team was able to take its first trip on the water in five years. Despite the lack of wind, the positive trip was a testament to the team’s dedication to get the club back on its feet.

The exec board’s goal is not simply to make the transition from pre-organization to official­ly recognized student organization. “I call us a team, because, as President, I want us to com­pete against other schools. I come from Annap­olis, MD, which is known to some as the sail­ing capitol of the world…[so] I hope that we’ll be able to race against other schools and win,” Lange said.

Each member of the exec board has vastly different levels of experience. Lange grew up on the Maryland waters and Niver has sailed for the better part of a decade, while other mem­bers are comparably inexperienced. Approach­ing the club as a rookie, however, hasn’t proved a deterrent for the students’ interest in getting the team recognized or participating in the process. “Although I had no sailing experience whatsoever, I was confident in my floormate, Joe Niver, and the others who had experience that we could make something out of what he had,” expressed Terwilliger.

The Sailing Team hopes to continue moving forward and transition from being a pre-orga­nization into a recognized official student or­ganization, and ultimately, compete as a team in some capacity against other school’s sailing teams. One of the only difficulties the Team has encountered in terms of leadership and di­rection is that their Treasurer, Tapscott will be graduating in just a few weeks.

Fortunately for this band of new sailors, the Team has already found a replacement for their former financial leader, Alison Breeze. The Sail­ing Team is nonetheless making great strides in garnering popular interest on campus and gain­ing membership, in part due to the full-sized sail put up on the quad as advertisement. In other words, things are looking up for the sailing club. As Terwilliger expressed, “Every setback that we see and overcome is a testament to the de­termination and will of our exec board and the enthusiasm of others on campus to revive the sailing team.”

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