The Club Sailing Team at GVSU is a co-ed, student-run club sport that develops regionally and nationally competitive sailors, fosters new sailing talent, and builds a community and sense of camaraderie among undergraduate students. We compete in regattas in the Midwest during the fall and spring seasons.
We are an organization, who stands for giving the GVSU student body the opportunity to participate competitively or noncompetitively in the sport of sailing. In doing so, we will uphold the high standards established by Grand Valley State Universities other athletic programs.
Historically, the GVSU Sailing Team can be traced back around thirty years, when GVSU alumnus Mitch Padnos started a team, but later it fizzled out due to lack of leadership once the founding members departed. The Lakers had a sailing team on and off in 1990s as well, until a few years ago with Commodore Abbey Barnes made it her priority to create a competitive, serious, club team at GVSU. The team is currently sails on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan, we are based out of the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club, with a strategic partnership with the Junior Association in Holland, MI.
1. Do I need prior experience to join Club Sailing at GVSU?
Not at all! Many our new sailors every year have not sailed competitively before. We are a club sports team rather than a varsity team, so we emphasize teaching beginning sailors and helping each other improve. Many of our sailors work as sailing instructors over the summer, so teaching new sailors is a learning experience for them, too. Having sailing and racing experience is awesome, but having a willingness to learn and desire to improve is just as important.
2. How much commitment is the team?
All sailors are expected to practice at least twice a week. Practice is Monday to Thursday during the fall and spring semesters from 3 to 7pm. We also hold more casual practices and other events on non-regatta weekends. There is a regular bi-weekly meeting every Tuesday, where we share information about upcoming regattas, fundraising and social events and such. All members who intend to participate competitively pay dues of $150 for both semester, and those who would like to participate recreationally are also welcome and the dues are adjusted based on that. After joining the team, new sailors are advised to purchase a variety of gear including drysuits, gloves, and boots. We have many connections on the boating community to assist our sailors in getting the best price for high quality gear, so no worries!
3. How do I join the team?
If you know for sure that you want to sail in college, it is always a good idea to send in a brief self-introduction or even sailing resume to us (via email to [email protected]). Look out for Grand Valley Sailing Team at Campus Life Night, and attend a meeting. From there we can get started!
4. When do we sail? Even in crazy Michigan winters?
As mentioned, we sail throughout fall and spring semesters. That means that we start sailing in early September, and end in November, as the water gets cold. Then we start up again after Spring break in March, until the end of the school year. In the winter, although we're not sailing, we hold meetings and learning sessions and hang-out as a team!
5. How competitive is the team?
We sail in MCSA regattas as well as a few intersectional regattas. During fall we compete in regattas almost every weekend. In the spring it's a little more laid back, but we still practice and participate in a regatta here and there. For MCSA regattas, we travel around the Midwest, usually around Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. For more information about current coaches and regatta results, check out the tabs above.
6. What is Lake Michigan/Lake Macatawa water like?
Lake Michigan/Macatawa blows medium to heavily most of the time, and the water stays pretty cold until May. The winds are usually out of the West, and since Lake Macatawa is connected to Lake Michigan we will practice on the big lake when the weather accommodates. Don't worry—drysuits and practice will keep you warm. Also, since water and wind is integral part of sailing, you will learn to embrace their varying conditions as you practice.
7. What should I do if I want to visit the team in person?
Definitely email any executive board members of the team and we will set something up for you! Make sure to join our OrgSync, and visit us at events.
8. What are the benefits of sailing at Grand Valley State University, as opposed to other schools?
We practice at the Macatawa Bay Junior Association, which is located, a short half hour drive away. The site is strategically located to allow for sailing in many different conditions, including the ability to sail on the beautiful Lake Michigan! We have direct accessibility to a fleet of 420's, and JY-15's. There's also lots of opportunity for you to stay involved all year, as there are one-design and "big-boat" fleets that sail out of the club from May to November. There are lots of opportunities to learn and further your "big-boating" skills, as well as participate with yacht-club members in a variety of activities. In regards to job opportunities, we act as a funnel of skilled sailors to their summer programs, so if you are looking to be an instructor there are opportunities there as well.