Members of the Hillsdale College Sailing Club at a regatta in the fall. (Photo: Jacob Weaver | Courtesy)

Senior Jake Weaver and freshman Kaitlyn Rowland left the MCSA Mid­winters con­ference in Grand Rapids with exciting news for their team of sailors.

Hillsdale’s sailing club was offi­cially accepted into the Midwest Col­le­giate Sailing Asso­ci­ation on Sat­urday, January 27.

“We’re a real team now. After about a year and a half of working, it’s very exciting to have it come to fruition in terms of us being a real official team in every respect,” junior Pearce Pomerleau said.

This process began with Weaver and Pomerleau in late 2016. A little over a year later the club is ready to set sail as an official MCSA team in four regattas this spring.

“The first one is the freshman ice­breaker at Notre Dame,” Weaver said. “We’ll probably send about six people down there.”

This com­pe­tition will take place on March 24 – 25 and is to be fol­lowed con­sec­u­tively by three more regattas, one of which is the Women’s Qual­ifier at the Uni­versity of Michigan. Hillsdale’s sailing club cur­rently has about 14 members, about half of which are women, according to Weaver.

“That was one of the nice things to put on our appli­cation to MCSA, that we had a lot of female interest,” Weaver said.

Freshman Kaitlyn Rowland is an important asset to this new team of sailors. She has been coaching since she was sixteen years old.  

“She is a cer­tified instructor,” Pomerleau explained. “She has a lot of expe­rience not only with sailing and  racing, but with teaching and coaching young sailors. We’re very lucky to have her.”

Winter’s prepa­ration should set the sailing team up well for this upcoming spring. It recruited a great team and are looking to expand their resources to three used 420 club boats for prac­ticing on Baw Beese Lake, as well to provide their skippers and crew members with the proper equipment. These pur­chases will be made pos­sible by a $10,000 promise grant from an anonymous donor, Pomerleau wrote in a text.

“This semester we hit the ground running, recruited at The Source and tried to get people who hadn’t sailed get some expe­rience so they could come with us and really build up a team,” Weaver said.

Weaver said there is much to look forward to for this new club. Their official mem­bership of MCSA allows them to race in as many regattas as they want in a year, which will provide the expe­rience this team needs.

“It’s a big deal for Hillsdale, and we have good numbers for sus­tain­ability,” Rowland said. “I’ve got lots of ideas for improving our racing.”

A lot of time and effort has gone into making this crew an official team, but their efforts have paid off and their season will soon set sail.