You probably know that Washington College has a sailing team, those athletes who sail through ice, rain, sun, and whatever else the Chester River throws at them to compete up and down the East Coast. But maybe you aren’t quite this hard-core, or you don’t even know how to sail but have always wanted to learn.
That’s the impetus behind the College’s new sailing club, which is getting off the dock for the first time this spring after spending last fall and winter in the planning and SGA approval stages. Using the school’s racing dinghies, as well as two larger, more stable boats called Capris, the sailing club gives students who don’t have time to commit to the sailing team’s strenuous schedule, or simply don’t know the first thing about sailing, to get on the water.
“We want to make it fun for everyone,” says Mason Sheen ’17, a sailing team member who helped start a team at his high school in New Orleans and is a US Sailing Level 1 certified instructor. “I race pretty competitively, but I love sailing in any way. We are so fortunate that we have this great equipment and this nice venue, and it’s a shame it’s not being fully utilized. The club will help with that.”
Anna Zastrow ’17, the club’s president, says she grew up sailing small boats and last year taught sailing at a summer camp. “I really love sailing but I’ve never been interested in joining the sailing team,” she says. The club will let her pass along her knowledge and enjoy getting out on the water at the same time.
Ben Armiger, the College’s waterfront director and the club’s faculty adviser, says the goal is to develop a core group of active club members who can help make sailing less intimidating for beginners. They can help people learn basics about the boats, gear, and how to rig the boats and sails, then take them sailing and show them how to steer the boat and trim the sails to maneuver. As students get more experienced, Armiger expects they will be able to take a sailing test, which, if they pass, will enable them to check out boats anytime the sailing team isn’t using them.
Erica Pratt ’16, Armiger’s assistant, says she has sailing experience but lacks the time to dedicate to the sailing team. “Way back in the day, my father was the head of the club before it became a team. I thought it would be cool to carry that on,” she says. She’s also hoping to broaden the club’s activities to include the local community. “A lot of the kids who live in this area are right next to the Bay, but they’ve never even been sailing,” she says.
Armiger says it bodes well for the club that the students who are spearheading it are underclassmen who, as they advance toward graduation, will be training students who will follow them. “That will help make it sustainable. It’s a legacy they will leave.”
For more information on the sailing club, and to get emails about meeting and sailing times, contact Anna Zastrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.