After many years, sailing receives club status

Spreads knowledge about knot tying, linework to new club participants


Sailing team trains with Columbia Yacht Club Sailing School (photo courtesy of Gavin Dempsey ’22).

Elle Simek, Reporter

LT recently made a new addition to the long list of clubs and activities offered through the school. Sailing officially received club status November 2021, after previously not having that title in past years and formerly being rejected. 

“Almost every year the team has tried to formalize some sort of relationship with the school,” sailing member Gavin Dempsey ‘22 said. “[Previously], we had tried to be recognized as a team and have the school sponsor us at regattas (races) and for our practices. But this year, we changed our strategy and became formalized as a club, which is technically separate from the sailing team.”

Originally, sailing was not accepted by LT as a club due to the liability of them being on the water, club sponsor Dave Root said.

The club meets on the first Tuesday of every month. During the winter sports season, they met at 5:30 p.m. and will meet at 3:15 p.m. during the spring and fall sports seasons. The club is strictly off-water, meaning they are not allowed to sail on the water during meetings. 

“During the meetings, we talk about sailing basics for those who don’t know the sport, as well as strategy and more complex maneuvers as we prepare for the upcoming season,” Alana Jensen ‘22 said. “Our meetings are usually pretty relaxed, so we are open to talking about all things sailing. I think our club meetings are a great way to gain new sailors to our team and learn about skills we can implement on the water.”

The meetings also consist of practicing marlinspike seamanship (the art of knot tying and linework) and competing against one another in virtual sailing regattas, Root said.

The team has two levels: varsity and JV. New members are started on JV to learn about the sport.

“The JV program starts every season from the very basics, so new members will learn everything they need to know to sail and [participate in] sail racing,” Dempsey said. 

Root has extensive experience teaching sailing techniques and also being on the water. 

“During the boating season in Chicago, I train and instruct novice and advanced boaters on both power boats and sailboats and captain charter yachts,” Root said. “Additionally, I am a United States Coast Guard Licensed Captain with a 100-ton rating and sailing endorsements.” 

The club is preparing for their upcoming spring season with the boats being rigged March 12 and practices beginning March 15, along with a plan for what they want to improve on.

“In the spring, there are many team racing regattas in comparison to the fall where there are mainly fleet racing regattas, so there is a different strategy,” Jensen said. “We are also refreshing concepts we may have had difficulties with last season.” 

The team has some goals for this season, now that the club status has been received.

“My goal for the club is to keep growing and to spread the love of sailing to more students,” Root said.
With the sailing team receiving club status, the team is looking to recruit new members and spread the word about the club.

“We are hoping that our club status gives us a platform to recruit members through, because it is difficult to find out about us,” Dempsey said. 

New members are encouraged to join the club.

“Although it may seem overwhelming at first because sailing is a complex sport with lots of elements and rules, I encourage newcomers to keep coming and get more comfortable,” Jensen said.